Arm Balances

Click the arrow next to each asana name to reveal photos and alignment cues.

Adho Mukha Svanasana
Downward Facing Dog

Downward-Facing Dog

Alignment Cues: reach your sit bones high on the upper diagonal, maintain the natural curves of your spine (do not allow the lower back to flex), knees can stay bent, heels reach towards the floor (but do not have to touch), shoulders press away from the mat and scapula are wide across the back body, straight line wrists to hips, chest reaches towards thighs (but do not lose engagement in the shoulders), press the whole surface of the hand down into the mat

Drishti: in between your feet

Strengthens: shoulder girdle muscles

Stretches: hamstrings, calves


Adho Mukha Vrksasana
Handstand

Handstand

Alignment Cues:

  • hands directly under shoulders
  • keep arms straight
  • scapula elevate and protract (pressing wide and away from the floor)
  • core pulls the low belly in
  • slightly pull fronts of hip bones in towards your stomach (hollow body shape, do NOT arch!)
  • squeeze legs together and try to reach as tall as possible

Drishti: at the floor in between your hands (“peek” at the floor through your eyebrows) or looking straight out (top of head dropping straight down towards the mat)

Strengthens: a full body strengthener if done correctly! (especially core muscles, shoulders, inner thighs, and gluteals)

 


Ardha Pincha Mayurasana
Dolphin

Dolphin Pose

Alignment Cues: 

  • reach sit bones high to keep natural curves in the spine
  • press shoulders away from the mat
  • scapula wide on the back body
  • heels reach towards the mat (but do not have to reach the mat)
  • press the entire forearm and hand into the mat

Drishti: in between your feet

Strengthens: shoulder girdle muscles

Stretches: hamstrings, calves

 


Astangasana
Eight Limb Pose (Knees/Chest/Chin)

Knees - Chest - Chin to floor

Alignment Cues: 

  • lower your body in sequence (knees, then chest, then chin)
  • shift weight forward into hands to develop tricep strength through this posture
  • keep elbows hugged in close to your sides and lifted off the mat

Drishti: diagonally down and forward (at floor in front of chest and hands)

Strengthens: triceps and shoulder girdle muscles


Astavakrasana
Ashtavakra’s Pose (Eight Angle)

Eight Angle Pose

Alignment Cues: 

  • keep elbows over wrists as you bend into your “Chaturanga arms”
  • engage the inner thighs to squeeze the legs together around your upper arm
  • extend your legs as straight as possible
  • keep your shoulders level to the ground
  • bend the arms no more than 90 degrees

Drishti: sideways out at your feet

Strengthens: triceps, shoulder girdle muscles, core (to lift the legs), inner thighs

Stretches: hamstrings, IT band, ligaments across the ankles


Bakasana
Crow/Crane

Crow Pose

Alignment Cues: 

  • knees reach high up the triceps (towards the armpits) and stay in line with your arms (do not allow the knees to open wide outside the arms)
  • shoulders reach forward of the wrists
  • arms can bend slightly to allow the knees to land on the triceps (work towards straight arms)
  • core lifts the feet up towards the hips

Drishti: down towards the floor out in front of your hands

Strengthens: core, arm and shoulder muscles

 


Bhujapidasana
Arm Pressing Pose

Arm Pressing Pose

Alignment Cues: 

  • arms straight
  • wrists directly under shoulders
  • legs wrap high around the upper arms and squeeze in towards the shoulders
  • core keeps the hips lifted

Drishti: diagonally out and down (in front of hands)

Strengthens: inner thighs, core, arms

Stretches: inner and outer thighs


Chaturanga Dandasana
Four Limb Staff Pose

Chaturanga Dandasana

Alignment Cues: From plank, shift your shoulders forward of your wrist and lower your entire body towards the floor. Elbows bend back towards your feet and should be very close to your sides. Be sure to keep your elbows directly over your wrists. Bend to no more than 90 degrees, then lift the heart forward and up, extending the arms again into Upward-Facing Dog. Note that Chaturanga Dandasana is a straight forward then down movement; do not “snake” through your arms as this will not build the necessary arm and shoulder strength needed for more advanced arm balances.

Drishti: at the floor in front of your hands or diagonally down and forward (Ashtanga style)

Strengthens: core, arms, and shoulders


Eka Pada Galavasana
Flying Pigeon

Flying Pigeon Pose

Alignment Cues:

Drishti:

Strengthens:

Stretches:


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eka Pada Koundiyasana I (Koundi I)
Sage Koundinya I Pose (Flying Revolved Triangle)

Koundi I variation

Alignment Cues:

Drishti:

Strengthens:

Stretches:


Eka Pada Koundiyasana II (Koundi II)
Sage Koundinya II Pose (Flying Split)

Koundinyasana II variation

Alignment Cues:

Drishti:

Strengthens:

Stretches:


Parsva Bakasana
Side Crow/Crane

Side Crow

Alignment Cues:

Drishti:

Strengthens:

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Parsva Bhuja Dandasana
Grasshopper or Hummingbird

Hummingbird Pose

Alignment Cues:

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Strengthens:

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Phalakasana
Plank

Plank

Alignment Cues:

Drishti:

Strengthens:

Stretches:


Pincha Mayurasana
Forearm Stand

Forearm Stand Variation

Alignment Cues:

Drishti:

Strengthens:

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Purvottanasana
Upward Plank (Inverted Plane)

Inverted Plank

Alignment Cues:

Drishti:

Strengthens:

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Tittibhasana
Firefly Pose

Firefly Pose

Alignment Cues:

Drishti:

Strengthens:

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Vashistasana
Vashista’s Pose (Side Plank)

Side Plank

Alignment Cues:

Drishti:

Strengthens:

Stretches:


Visvamittrasana
Visvamittra’s Pose (Side Angle Lift)

Visvamittra's Pose

Alignment Cues:

Drishti:

Strengthens:

Stretches: