24 Jan Progressing Your Practice
After we’ve been practicing for a while we start to feel more comfortable on our mat and more comfortable in most of the poses we see in our daily practice. Which can be really great. But there comes that time where we want to start progressing our physical practice. While there’s always room to dive deeper into all aspects of the practice, our inversions and arm balances are a great way to challenge our bodies and minds on the mat. Here are two shapes you can start to work towards if you feel like taking the next level.
Arm Balance – Eka Pada Koundinyasana II
When it comes to arm balances, it’s obvious that we need to build some upper body and core strength. For Koundinyasana II we also want to have thought about hips and hamstrings. So these are great places to start when thinking about warming up. Strength in the wrists, arms, and shoulders, while opening hips and hamstrings.
So how do we get into this shape? Starting in down dog is a good option. From here, reach the right leg high coming into three legged dog. Bring your knee to your right elbow or right upper arm. Weight comes forward into the hands and the back foot lifts off the ground. If you’re comfortable here, start to straighten your right leg as well. Both legs are extended, both feet lifted.
If this is a bit much to start, you can practice the shape step by step. Start in lizard lunge (low lunge with the right foot outside the right hand and the back knee lifted. From here you can start to get your shoulder under your leg. You can make this easier by lifting that front heel off the ground. From here, see if you can start to straighten that front leg. Weight then comes forward into your hands, think chaturanga arms, and then lift your back heel off the ground. This way can be more challenging but it gets you step by step into the correct alignment.
Inversion – Pincha Mayurasana
Inversions can be anything from handstand to shoulder stand. And one that is often a challenge for us all is the forearm stand pincha mayurasana. To set yourself up for this shape, you want to think about shoulder mobility, shoulder and upper body strength, and strength in the core and the legs.
You can use the kicking up technique and use the wall when starting, or you can work to build strength to come into this shape in the middle of the room.
Using the wall, starting in downward dog, place your forearms to the ground coming into dolphin pose. You want to really press your forearms down, walk your toes in as close as they will come towards your elbows. Lift one leg up towards the sky, lifting that top heel as high as you can and coming right up onto the toes of your bottom leg. Bending the grounded leg kick up and bring feet together. You can use the wall to steady yourself but you ideally want to lift away from the wall, squeeze your legs together, hug the core in and up, push the forearms and all ten fingers into the ground.
If you want to build the strength to go without a wall, the start is the same. In downward dog, place your forearms to the ground coming into dolphin pose. You want to really press your forearms down, walk your toes in as close as they will come towards your elbows. Lift one leg up towards the sky, lifting that top heel as high as you can and coming right up onto the toes of your bottom leg. From here you want to think about lifting as high as you can. Working to eventually lift that bottom leg up to join the top leg using strength rather than momentum.
If you want to know more… join our OMazing international guest teacher – Michael James Wong – from Boys of Yoga for his Masterclasses in our Mordialloc studio on February 16 + February 17, 9am – 4pm both days. Check our Workshops page for full details.
Be curious. Play! Namaste with love yogis!