This Saturday, I’m teaching an Arm Balance and Inversions workshop at Spirit Bear Power Yoga in Natick. (there is still space available, do sign up, shameless advert over) Prior to starting yoga, I believed that I had (relatively) weak arms. I was 30, was at the skinny end of the height/weight charts you see at doctors’ offices, and was advised as a young saxophone student to avoid weightlifting to protect a hard-won pretty sound. So the first time I saw some of the arm balances called in yoga class, I was astonished, and very doubtful that could ever happen in my body.
Fast forward seven years, and some of this stuff does happen in my body. I’ve learned that arm strength is only part of the equation when it comes to arm balancing, and now always the most important part. Core strength, flexibility, active limbs, and strong propreoception (the ability to understand where the body is in space) are just as important. There are plenty of folks with hulking biceps who can’t hold crow or handstand.
That said, often the biggest impediment to an arm balance practice is not in the muscles, but in the mind. So often in class a student’s body is strong and ready, and they get ready to lift their feet of the ground and their mind freezes up, and the moment escapes them. And if you stop and consider for a moment, there’s almost no risk of injury for the average person in crow- if you fall, you land on your knees. Your head is at most three inches off the mat- you’re at more risk if you slip on stairs! Ram Dass likes to say the mind is a wonderful servant and a terrible master; what would happen if the crow led and the mind followed?
Below is a video I made to start to work crow, for experienced beginner students. If you freeze during crow, this is for you. And if you’re in the neighborhood, I’d love to see you in Natick on Saturday!