Practice with Mark Robberds Artwork
Season 1 - Episode 11

Arm Balancing Play

50 min - Practice
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Description

Mark guides us through a challenging practice of arm balance exploration. We begin by warming the body with Surya Namaskars (Sun Salutations), before moving into a variety of arm balances, including variations of Bakasana (Crow Pose), Visvamitrasana, Eka Pada Koundinyasana II, and Astavakrasana (Eight Angle Pose). We finish with an inversion, a calming meditation, and breathing exercise before a rewarding Savasana.
What You'll Need: Mat

Transcript

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Hi guys, in this class we're going to be focusing on arm balancing, so let's come to the front of our mats. Just take a moment to align the body, centering the knees and hips over the feet, shoulders over the hips, lengthening through the crown of the head. Bring the hands together, just take a moment to connect with the sound, the rhythm of your breath and then bring the hands down and inhale. Take the hands up and exhale, fold forward, inhale lift the head and chest up, exhale step or jump back, come into a high plank and as you go into the high plank, have enough space so you can come onto the tops of the feet, with the feet together, shoulders over the wrists, curl the tailbone under ribs in and as you lower down squeeze the elbows in and then straightening the arms, go into your upward dog, rolling the thighs in, pull the shoulders down and then back through the angry cat through the downward dog. Just walk the dog a little and then as you inhale take the right leg up, squeeze the left heel in, keep spreading the shoulders and then bending the knee, open the hip up towards the ceiling, looking up under the armpit and then inhale squaring the hips and exhale bring the foot down and then inhale take the left leg up, squeeze the right heel in, spread the toes, spread the shoulders and bending the knee, flex the foot, open the hip and look up under the armpit and inhale, square the hips, strain the leg and exhale.

Breathing the foot in and exhale the breath fully, bend the knees and inhale step or jump to the front, head up, exhale fold forward, squeeze the heels in, head down, elbows in and inhale come up and exhaling samasthiti here, bending the knees, sit down low if possible coming all the way down and bring thighs parallel and come all the way up inhale drop the tail down and exhale fold forward, elbows in, inhale pubic bone goes back as you lift the kneecaps up and exhale step or jump back come on to the tops of the feet curl the tailbone under shoulders to the hips and squeeze the elbows in as you lower down and then inhaling pull the shoulders down lift the chest lift the knees and exhale rolling back to the downward dog and then bringing the knee into the chest and then stepping the foot forward as we come up spin the arms lift the left knee take the arms back and exhale hands to the floor lift the knee to the chest and lower down exhale inhaling upward dog and exhale downward dog inhale left knee to the chest and step it forward right knee strong straight spin the arms lift the chest inhale and exhale lift the knee to the chest and take it back lower down and inhaling to the upward dog exhale to the downward dog and just take a moment here spreading the shoulders spreading the fingers and toes and then coming up onto the balls of the feet we're going to turn and come onto the edge of the right foot and bring your shoulder directly over the top of the wrist pull the shoulder to the hip and you want to lift your hip away from the floor if you need to just keep the other foot on the floor for balance and then take the left arm up either look down or if you can looking up balance is good feet on top of each other and hold keep the ribs drawn in tailbone curling towards the heels take one more breath and then exhale and to the floor come to the high plank and then rolling into the upward dog and then rolling back to the downward dog and then coming onto the edge of the left foot bring the shoulder over the top of the wrist pull the shoulder to the hip and lift the hip up towards the ceiling curl the tailbone under ribs in and then take the hand up if you need take the foot to the floor to balance look down or if you can looking up and then exhaling and coming down rolling spine one vertebrae at a time and rolling back and let's take the feet into a wide legged dog and then coming into a high plank and then bring your right hand to the center of your mat shoulder over the top of the wrist and then push into your hand and twist turning your chest up toward the ceiling try to keep the hips level ribs in tailbone down and then looking down and exhale and go to the other side so get that good plank position and then bring the left hand to the center push into the hand and twist keeping the hips somewhat level shoulder to the hip and open up through the thoracic spine and then exhale and rolling through the spine one vertebrae at a time coming down and rolling back and inhale step the right foot forward coming to the lizard lungs taking your hands on the inside of the leg and if you can try to bring your elbows to the floor keep the left knee lifted and slow the breath down a little and then just come up and straighten the right leg as best you can if you want to go a little deeper flex the foot bring the toes towards the shin inhale and exhale and again inhaling and exhale inhale and exhale and then bending that right leg and then coming down into kind of a Cossack squat so if you can't get this deep you may need to just come back up a little and just work more with the support of your hands if we can we're trying to just open up there dropping that hip down and sit up nice and straight can also come down to the floor here and then hold this foot and stretch to the side and then come up and coming back to the lunge and then turn that foot down and bring the right elbow to the floor kind of like your butter Parsva Konasana position except this time you want to place the hand to the floor and then open up it's balancing on the hand and the foot and then either grab a hold of your ankle or the outside of the foot here and start to work your leg straight and hold opening up the chest toward the ceiling and then releasing this one bring the hand to the floor one option is to bring your hip or your abdominal muscles or your abdomen onto the elbow and balance or if you have the strength try to balance just like that and then exhale back to the Chaturanga and inhaling up dog exhale downward facing dog taking a moment there and then stepping the left foot forward to the lizard lunge ring the elbows to the floor lift that right knee up reconnecting with the breath and then coming up and straightening that left leg keep the foot on the floor if you need or if you can you want to go deeper lift the wall of the foot up so inhale and exhale again inhale exhale and once more inhale exhale and bending the knee and then coming into a Cossack squat you can try to keep the spine lifted and then you can sit down hold the left elbow going to a side bend and then releasing and coming back to the lunge and then turning that foot and bring the left elbow on the inside bring the hand to the floor and then lift that left foot up either stay there grab a hold of the ankle the outside of the foot and start to straighten the leg opening the chest up towards the ceiling and then release and to the floor either bring your ribs onto the elbow or balance without jumping back and inhale to the up dog exhale downward facing dog and let's jump forward cross the legs and sit down and just do an easy one so just cross the legs easy cross leg or if you can do ankle to knee pose double pigeon the feet flex inhale take the hands up and exhale stretch the hands forward I'm just taking this moment to slow the breath down reconnecting with the breath inhale the breath completely and then inhale head up and exhale and inhale come up and let's change sides so crossing left leg on top come on to the front edge of the sitting bones flex the feet inhale hands up exhale forward again inhale lift lengthen and exhale softening releasing tension through the neck shoulders close steady breathing with sound at the back of the throat exhale all the way and then inhale top and exhale and coming up hug the knees in close and then inhale lift up exhale and jump back inhale upward dog exhale downward dog and jump your feet to your hands and come into a squat position heels off the floor and let's bring the knees in to the on to top of the elbows rotate your arms so that the creases of the elbows are facing forward and the elbows coming in towards each other pull the shoulders towards the hips press up between your shoulder blades and curl the tailbone under and lean forward until you feel your feet floating off the floor for kakasana the crow and then coming back to a squat this time bring the knees up a little higher into the triceps maybe up into the armpits again rotate the arms so the crease of the elbow comes forward so you're twisting your hands outwards and then elbows are coming in lean forward shoulders to the hips curl the tailbone under press up between the shoulder blades lean forward until your feet float up and then lift the feet and then exhaling and come back down and now we'll try going in and out of this from tripod headstand so place the hands and then bring your head to the floor shoulders away from the ears elbows in just get comfortable even if you're here to begin with with your feet still on the floor just getting comfortable building the strength in your neck if it's okay try to lift the feet up come to a tough position and then if that's okay you go up to the headstand and then come back down to the tuck and then come back to the squat so now we're going to practice trying to come into the frog stand so we bring the knees on the outside of the arms elbows in lean forward squeeze the knees and lift and then go back down so we're going to a tripod headstand and then into the frog stand so bring the head to the floor elbows in lift up the headstand come down take the knees on the outside of the arms and you still have to lean your weight back and just as the head starts to lift press the hips forward shoulders down and then go back to the headstand up in and out and just take a moment here resting in the child's pose and bring the hands forward step back lower down to Chaturanga and then inhaling to the upward dog exhale to the downward dog jump your feet to your hands again and now we'll try working on the crane or the crow again with one leg at a time extending out so bring your knees into the elbows or into the triceps wrap the squeeze the elbows in shoulders towards the hips lean forward feet lift and then if you can try to extend one leg back and bring it in and then try to go to the other side extend one leg back and then bring it in and come back to the squat and just take a moment here and then stepping it back and release the spine a little going to our upward dog and back to the downward dog and jump your feet to your hands and come up cross your legs and cross your right leg on top with the foot flexed and then try to bring your foot up into your armpit and the other knee into the other armpit and you're going to squeeze the elbows in lean forward make sure you're pulling your shoulders towards your hip and then just try to lift the foot off the floor and then you come back down and then again squeeze the elbows in lean forward lift the foot and then try to straighten the leg and then bring it back in and then let's try the other side so as you come up cross the leg foot flex lean forward bring your shoulders to touch the shin foot flex squeeze the elbows in shoulders to hips lean forward foot lifts and then come down if that's easy then try the next stage again squeeze the elbows in shoulders to hips lean forward straighten the leg and bring it in and release and let's step it back rolling through and the upward dog inhale and exhale back to the downward dog and just shift the weight side to side and can get pretty heavy on the wrist doing all this so we can just stretch the wrist out a little bit and jumping your feet to the front and then we go into the side crow you're going to turn your hips to the side and to begin with either you're going to bring your knee one knee to the elbow and then try to touch the other hip to the opposite elbow squeeze the elbows in lean forward until your feet lift off the floor and then come back and try the other side turning to the right elbow squeeze in leaning into the right elbow and then bring that left elbow into the hip lean forward to the feet lift and then sit down and then try the other side again time extending the legs elbows in touch the knee to the elbow bring the other hip to the elbow and then can try straightening your legs bring it in and change sides elbows in lean in and straighten the legs and down and then the hardest version is to only be balancing on the arm and not on the hip so you're going to come into this position here and then just balancing on one arm and then straightening the legs out to the side and then bring it in and turning to the other side elbows in and then straighten the legs and then bring it in and stepping back to the downward dog rolling through the upward dog and back to the downward dog and just shifting your weight side to side stretch out the wrist and then step or jump your legs forward and sit down and we're going to bring the right leg is coming over the top of the arm and you're going to squeeze down with that right leg with the foot flex you're going to bend the left knee to the chest and lean forward lift your hips if you can do that try to cross your feet if you can do that and try to straighten your legs and if you can do that bend your elbows squeeze the elbows in and straighten your legs and try to jump back from here so come back to this position and swing either touch your foot or jump all the way back and lower down exhale inhaling upward dog exhale to the downward dog and either step or walk or hop through to the other side and you're going to hook that leg over the top getting the knee as high on the shoulder as possible really squeeze down with the leg with the foot flex bend that knee into the chest pull your shoulders down as you lift up if you can do that then try and cross the feet you can do that straighten the legs and bend the elbows and hold good and try to jump back get back to this position and then swing back exhaling inhale up dog exhale downward dog and let's just come down onto the knees and come into a child's pose let's slowly just come up and we'll just release the wrist a little so if you can make a fist and bring the knuckles together bring the hands to the chest and then start to straighten the arms but keep the knuckles touching and just do that a few times we'll just stretch out the right wrist turn the palm up pull the fingers to back and then on the left hand palm face down just a gentle stretch you can even pull on the skin a little feel like you're getting some traction across the joint and turn the hand the other way and just shake it out and rely on our stomachs and you can take your right arm out to the side at shoulder height keeping the right shoulder press into the floor start to turn your chest up toward the ceiling try not to let the shoulder lift off the floor so keep it down do the same thing at this time with the elbow bent and 90 degrees so keeping the shoulder down and start to turn the chest and if you really keep that shoulder press down you won't be able to move that much before you start feeling a deep stretch through the chest and then coming back and do the left arm so taking the shoulder hand to the side and then opening up toward the ceiling you might even be able to turn your hips all the way up those of you can can even bring the hand back and pull the shoulder blades together and then we do the same thing but this time with the elbow bent 90 degrees make sure you're keeping the shoulder down as you turn and you don't need to turn that far to feel it here and then coming back to the middle and just going to just a sealed stretch here and then going to an upward dog back through the angry cat position and into a downward dog spreading the shoulders and we'll just prepare for headstand so bringing the elbows shoulder width apart and to lock the fingers really pressing down through the wrist through the elbows facing the head again setting the shoulders then lift the knees and start to walk in maybe just stay there or if you can leaning forward make sure you keep pressing into the elbows and the wrists leaning forward to the feet float up and then coming to the headstand spreading the shoulders pressing to the wrist ribs in tailbone lifting towards the heels holding the thighs in pointing the feet spreading the toes slowing the breath right down see if you can lower to halfway if you need to go into a tuck position otherwise if you can straightening the legs and then lifting back up to the headstand and then slowly coming all the way down with control touching the knees and resting in the child's pose and then let's slowly come up and let's come into a Gomukhasana position left leg on top and crossing the right arm over pull the shoulder down create some resistance by pressing your arm forward and resisting with the hand and then crossing the elbows try to bring the hands together lift the elbows up and forward as you pull the shoulders down and lift the collar bones up and release and then take the left arm back right arm up and over you can holding the hands if that's not possible then just use the left hand on the right elbow keep the ribs down and in and then release take the hands back turn the palms out lift the chest inhale stretch the throat chin up and exhale and then to the side bring that left hand to the side right arm past the face and come down to the left elbow as you turn the chest up towards the ceiling stretch out through the fingertips ribs in feeling that nice side stretch and then look down exhale and inhale to come up and then let's cross the legs and we'll do the other side take the left right leg over the top and crossing the left arm up pull the shoulder down create some resistance by pushing the pressing the left arm forward as you resist with the right hand and then cross the elbows and press the elbows forward and up feel as if you're pressing the elbows against each other as you lift the collar bones up pulling the shoulders down and release and then take the right arm up and the left arm back holding on to the left elbow with the left hand if you need to ribs in to lift chest if you want to go deeper into the stretch bring the elbow behind the head and lift up and back as you drop the ribs down and release go into our side stretch bring the hand to the side left arm pass along the floor pass the face to turn the head and chest up ribs in rotate the arms spreading the fingers and then look down exhale inhale to come up taking the hands back pull the shoulder blades together inhale lift the chest and exhale and then coming into a comfortable cross leg position half loaders full loaders whatever feels comfortable for you and bringing the fingertips into the lower belly positioning the hips so that you're dropping the pubic bone down and at the same time dropping the tailbone down as you breathe in feeling the belly expand and then as you breathe out drawing the navel in toward the spine keeping the lower abdomen still bringing the hands to the side ribs feeling the breath expanding evenly to the front side and back ribs as you breathe out lengthening through the crown of the head take the hands a little higher just almost under the armpits as you breathe in the breath spreads evenly symmetrically shoulders down and exhale lengthening from the tailbone to the crown of the head and then bring the thumb and first finger together drawing the full range of the breath one more feeling all the way up to the collarbones and then slowly breathing out emptying the breath slowly and completely and then releasing the belly releasing pelvic floor returning back to calm relaxed abdominal breathing slowing the breath right down feeling the sensations in the fingertips toe tips feeling the face soft calm and relaxed releasing the stillness between the breath feel free to stay here or if you wish carefully straighten out your legs lie down on your back lengthening the back of the neck lengthening back of the skull so that the bridge of the nose is more or less level with the chin feel the back of the body widening shoulders supported by the floor same time feel the front of the body widening expanding releasing tension through the hands and the feet dropping down into the floor the arms and the legs fall away releasing tension the abdomen the diaphragm feeling the heart open expanding in all directions lengthening the throat jaw the mouth the tongue face the eyes the forehead skull the ears open listening deeply into the present moment letting go of all thoughts of the past all plans and worry about the future abiding in presence resting in your true nature feel free to stay here as long as you want or just carefully stretching your hands over your head take a deep breath in have a big stretch and then exhaling and bend your knees to your chest and then rolling over onto the right side slowly coming up to sitting and finding a comfortable seat bring your hands together just taking a moment to reflect on your intention for your practice giving thanks for taking this time for yourself and Namaste thank you very much

Comments

Ivelisse C
What an amazing and challenging sequence! It will surely be part of my practice to help me build arm strength. Thank you, Mark!
Kate M
This is bringing me to a lot of the postures I struggle with and therefore tend to ignore. So good to face this with compassion and intelligence. Lovely sequencing.
Beth S
Loved this class! Forced me to practice poses I tend to struggle with ...I hope to make this one a regular practice in order to gain more flexibility and strength
Star R
1 person likes this.
Great Practice, strong energy. Great for challenging the upper body!

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