Teaching yoga is unexpectedly rewarding work. The rewards are not necessarily raking in the big bucks, which you might have figured out by now, but you can make a living (I have been for most of my adult life) and the REWARDS. This is why I do my job...
I seldom do REAL arm balances because my wrists kind of hate them. I am very tight in mr forearms, and my shoulders, and my chest.
All of which mean I don't quite access the pathways of weight in my hands as I should, for comfort.
I'm working on releasing my upper body but it's an uphill struggle given how much I drive and use a computer. I'm all about good biomechanics these days, so I don't do stuff that I KNOW will hurt me. Well, mostly I don't. Sigh.
If you're in the same boat, I offer you these arm balance prep poses. They won't put as much pressure on your wrists, shoulders, or neck, but they WILL get you strong!!!
Here are my three favourites for you to practice at home!
And if you are working towards Bakasana (Crane or Crow Pose) and can't QUITE get liftoff, here's a little trick for you from our friend Jenifer at Healium:
If you’re doing plank pose correctly (read: safely), it’s a seriously awesome way to build strength throughout your whole body. And when you’re starting, even holding it for a couple of breaths is plenty to get you on the right track. And if plank feels pretty familiar, you might find that these tips make it harder again.
Good question. We teach what can really be best described as 'corporate yoga'. I.e. people will get challenged, but the pace isn't too fast as it's silly to expect folks to come straight out of work mode & meetings and into a very fast moving yoga class where the risk of injury exists.
We sometimes call it 'slow power yoga' so that people know they will be doing lots of lunges, squats, and planks, but that they won't be moving as fast as in a traditional vinyasa class.
We do a lot of strength and postural work, too, so people can get through their daily lives feeling more physically comfortable and calmer.
Here's a sample of how a mm...Yoga! class might look:
- Start in savasana (lying on your back) with breath awareness
- shoulder warm ups
- down dog (where we asess what people’s shoulder girdles are doing and their hamstring mobility)
- short rest on back, then core work, bridge pose, maybe side plank if appropriate:
- reclining twist
- savasana (guided relaxation)
Here’s a quick practice to do at home, to get your arms, wrists, shoulders and core really fired up! Please work with caution and within your abilities.
Clockwise from top left:
1.Downward Facing Dog
This pose helps to stretch the entire back of the body, especially the hamstrings, calves and Achilles tendons. It creates strength in the shoulder girdle and upper back and lengthens the sides of the body.
2. Knee Scoop
From Down Dog, exhale to bend one knee and scoop it towards your chest. Keep it as high off the ground as you can. Stay a few breaths, rocking a bit if you want to, then ease back to Down Dog to rest before repeating on the other side.
3. Plank Pose
This pose challenges you to stabilise through your arms and shoulders while keeping your core engaged. Make sure your legs are working too, so your whole body is activated. If you have wrist issues, work on your forearms.
4. Side Plank Pose
This is a great pose for building total body strength with a focus in your core, wrist and shoulder. If you have any pre-existing wrist issues, you can practice on your forearm. Come into it from Plank by shifting your weight onto one side. Stay a few breaths, then do the other side. You can add extra challenge by moving into side plank on exhale, then back to plank on swapping sides with the breath.
5. Downward Facing Dog
You can use this pose as a rest stretch now (haha! some of you will be saying. Child pose is fine too). Stay broad across the shoulders and keep your legs active and your belly slightly tucked under while you BREATHE!
6. Child Pose
A final rest after the strength work. If this hurts your knees or ankles, lie on your back and hug your knees. If you do this sequence a few times a week you will notice significant gains in upper body and core strength.