Three ways to overcome your fear of falling in arm balances

Fear is one of the biggest obstacles of yoga. As we advance our practice, we shift and strengthen our bodies in ways we never thought possible. We invert. We balance on our hands. We hold ourselves up without support.

We experience a mental block as the poses become more difficult. It is hard to believe in yourself. We can tell when we are doing something wrong by our fight-or-flight patterns. We often leave the pose without reaching our full potential.

With these tips, you can train your body to align itself properly for arm balances.

Find Your Center

By center, I refer to your core. These deep abdominal muscles are what hold you up while you try to balance and flip gravity on your hands. Sometimes, the only way to discover your strength is through feeling.

Press your heels to generate energy. Pull your lower belly toward the spine while tucking your tailbone and hips. Imagine flexing the abdomen. Continue to contract your core as you activate your shoulder blades while pressing into your palms.

For arm balance, the muscles in the shoulder girdle and the fingertips are essential. Grip the ground beneath you and shift forward into your fingertips. The simultaneous pressing and lifting of the Plank, as you learn how to engage each muscle properly, will train your body to fight instead of fight from the fear that it may fall.

Use Props

It’s okay to have a little more support. It’s not uncommon for me to see my students become frustrated or embarrassed when forced to use blocks. But it is more important to train your body correctly. It’s better to give it what it wants than develop false habits.

My favorite props to use for arm balances are blocks. They teach the correct angles needed to keep the body off the ground. Straps are also useful. When I am learning a new arm balance, I always tie a strap right around the elbow and use it as a rubberband while I practice Chaturanga.

Place a medium-sized block underneath the chest with the strap around your arms. Bend your elbows so that the chest rests on the block and the upper ribcage is resting on the strap. Hold and pause. Feel your elbows bringing together and your chest reaching outwards. Activate your biceps, pectoral, and triceps muscles.

You should be able to see where your body is sinking – hips and core. These problem areas may prevent you from achieving the correct posture.

Lean Into It

It’s mind over matter. Teachers repeat this over and over, but sometimes it’s not enough. Consider this: Your body is powerful. It is capable. Why not balance your hands on the floor?

It’s not common, but I’ve seen beginners fly into an arm balance during their first class because they didn’t realize it was difficult. They were confident in their ability.

You can achieve the desired arm balance when you train your body and strengthen the muscles. This is something I’m still learning every day. Even after years of teaching, I worry about being unprepared. I am afraid of falling. I’ve done it. On the third attempt, however, something magical happens.

Do not try an arm balance just once. It is never enough to do something just once. This is not a restaurant serving tapas. This class is a full meal. Taste the pose by leaning into it. Feel the effects on your body.

If you lean into the wall, it will protect you from falling. Nothing will crack. Nothing will break. The body will learn to function in a new plane of gravity. You are learning to fly the same way you learned to walk.

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