Arm balance poses are as thrilling as they are intimidating. When you hold yourself up on your own to hands for the first time, the effects tend to be something in the realm of "oh hell yes!!" Besides feeling like a superhero, practicing arm balances is an excellent way to connect deeper to your physical and mental bodies. They require ample physical preparation and strong mental focus. This month's asana breakdown is a pose that can seem much more challenging, maybe even impossible, than it really is. I give you....Grasshopper!
This shape is a deep hip opener, spinal twist, and upper body strengthener. To prepare your body well, I suggest beginning with at least a few sun salutations to get both breath and body in conscious motion. Follow those with:
- Hip openers (such as double or single pigeon, or tree pose) for at least 5-10 breaths each side
- Twists (such as revolved chair and revolved lunge) to lubricate your vertebrae for at least 5-10 breaths each side
- Holding chaturanga to engage your triceps and wrists. Hold for at least 3 rounds of 5-10 breaths.
Once you have mindfully prepared your body, you are ready to take flight!
- Come into tree pose. Take a moment to feel your standing left leg and foot ground and stabilize. Push into your left foot to grow your spine taller. Then, bring your right ankle onto your left thigh.
- Lower your heart toward your right shin. Holding this shape may be plenty for your body today.
- Begin to twist your spine to the left, bend your standing left leg to lower your hips closer to earth, and hook your right elbow to the sole of your right foot. Get your foot as high up onto your tricep as you can. Squeeze these two together strongly. Hands plant firmly into earth, shoulder width apart.
- Look forward more than you think you should. As your gaze reaches away from your mat, follow it with your hips. Press more weight into your hands, lean toward the direction of your gaze, and begin to lift your hips. The more you affirm the connection of foot and tricep, the more stable you will be. Gaze is steady, breath is deep.
- Keep leaning forward until your left foot hovers in by your sit bones. Then, slowly, extend your left leg toward the top of your mat.
- Come back out just the way you came in, and try the other side!
**Helpful Tips: You can rest your left hip bone on your left tricep for further stabilization and weight distribution, and eventually move toward hovering your body on just your right arm. Using a strap looped across the width of your upper arms is also super helpful to keep your arms hugging in toward one another.
The most important element of trying any yoga pose is the observed detail. What happened in your mind and body when you were in this shape? If you didn't get your left foot off of the floor, but you noticed how brave you were for hovering your face so closely to the ground, then you've benefitted! What matters is the experience. Not the aesthetics.
Benefits of Grasshopper Pose:
- Strengthens the wrists, triceps, and quads
- opens the groin
- stimulates the digestive system
- Focuses the mind
- Increases self-esteem and/or humility
- Gives you a reason to come back to your mat
What asana would you like to learn more about? Leave a note in the comments section below, and I'll feature it here!