Discover Arm Balancing Artwork
Season 1 - Episode 9


30 min - Practice


Rock this fun and challenging back-bending arm balance, Rockstar. Allison starts our journey supine, opening the front body, warming up the arms and shoulders, and drawing on the strength of the legs, hamstrings, and hips. We support our lift into the pose with props.
What You'll Need: Mat, Blanket, Block (2)


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Hi, everyone. Welcome back. Today we'll be practicing Wild Thing or Rockstar. And so it's a really interesting backbend, and it's one of my favorites. For today's practice, you'll need two blocks, a blanket, and possibly a co-host. This is Reggie, and he seems quite divine right now, so we won't disturb him. But what you will do is grab your two blocks and take your blocks so that they're on the right edge of your mat with the long edges of the mat parallel with the long edges of your mat. And make your way down onto your back. So you can be in constructive rest during Shavasana, but move yourself a little bit so that if you are straightening your legs, that the blocks don't disturb you. And rest your arms down into the mat, head and shoulders, your back and hips, and either the soles of your feet or the backs of your legs. Take a few centering breaths here. So sometimes, right, when we talk about arm balances, they can be so exhilarating and so fun, but then they can also be intimidating and challenging and hard, right? They can be scary. And so what I love about introducing props into this practice is that we can have all of these different variations of arm balances like we'll see today, and do it in a way that's supportive where we can breathe, where we can center ourselves within challenge. So now keep about 10% of your awareness on your breath. If your legs are straight, bend your knees and take your right foot and place your right foot onto your block and make sure that your heel really is firmly on the block so that you can press down. I'm going to straighten my left leg and eventually we will be here too. But I want to scooch forward so that I close the angle a little bit of my knee so that when I press my foot down, it really is pushing down rather than kind of pushing down and forward. So scooch yourself up and then straighten your leg. Turn your left leg out a bit so that the outer edge of the foot comes closer to the floor. Now, if I really try to get the outer edge of my foot all the way down to the floor, my pelvis is going to move and that usually is okay. But for right now, I actually want my pelvis to be on the floor and the sole of the foot to directly press down. So it's okay that the outer edge of the foot isn't all the way down. And then you can take your arms up towards the ceiling or have your hands down on the floor. Press your right heel into the block, press your outer heel down into the floor and then lift your hips up. You may notice that there's an extreme tension that happens at the back of the leg. So if you get a hamstring cramp, know that that's okay. Then from here, rock your pelvis a little bit to the side and then back through center. Rock the pelvis to the side, touch the outer edge of the foot down. Keep pressing the hips up and back through center. Rock. So you externally rotate the left leg as the outer edge makes contact with the floor and then back. Then lower your hips down. Bend your left knee, take your blocks and move your blocks over to the other side. And now I'm joined by my beautiful bell. Okay, so then from here, you're going to take your left foot, make sure your heel is on the blocks, straighten your right leg, turn your right leg out. And again, just for right now, let the outer edge of the foot hover away from the floor, doesn't have to be down. Take the arms up or hands pressing down into the floor. Lift the hips up. So drive the left heel down, lift up. You'll notice how your right leg slides back. Let that happen. Then from there, turn the right leg out and bring the leg back through center. Press into the block, lift your left hip, roll the right leg to the right, back through center. And again, roll the leg out and back through center. Last time, roll, lift the pelvis up, come back onto the heel, lower your hips down with control, lower your arms if they're up, and then straighten your left leg. From here, bend your right knee into your chest and hold right behind the thigh as you reach your right heel up towards the ceiling. And you may notice right now that there's a really nice release of the hamstrings after all that hamstring work. And bend the right knee back in towards your chest, release the right leg, switch sides, pull your left knee into your chest, wrap the hands around the back of your left thigh and reach your left heel up towards the ceiling. And bend your left knee. Keep your left knee in towards your chest and join the left leg with your right leg by pulling the knee in. Cross your right knee over your left knee and you can place your left foot on the block. So you might have to tap around and find them. You can stay here for a version of Gomukhasana or pull your legs in, grab onto the outer legs or the ankles as you draw your legs into Supta Gomukhasana. And unwind the legs, maybe take that right foot, start there, cross the left leg over the right leg, pause, and stay here or draw the knees in, hold onto the feet, shins, ankles, and then slowly unwind. Place your feet now down onto the floor, roll to one side, and for a moment just release the back from the mat and notice what that feels like. And using your hands, press yourself up. You can move your blocks aside and come onto all fours for tabletop. So your hands are about shoulder width apart and have your shoulders slightly behind your wrists. From here shift slightly forward and then back. Shift forward and back. One more time, forward and back. Then walk your hands out to the side so your fingertips are pointing towards the long edge of the mat, bend your elbows and rock a little bit side to side. Return to center and walk your hands behind you so you may bring your hands closer to your knees and then shift back, almost like you're approaching child's pose here. And release that and start to walk your palms around and finding different angles as you shift your weight into the hand. And now take the back of your hand to the mat. So again, you're going to move your weight back as you bring the backs of your hands to the mat and start walking the backs of your hands. And then walk them in the other direction. Lean forward a little bit with your fingertips facing the short edge of the mat towards the front. Then bring your palms back to the floor.

Grab one of your blocks. And now if the block doesn't work, you can always take a blanket or a ball or something so that you can place it behind the knee or behind the backs of the legs. With the block, I take the block to the back of my heel and then try to tuck it into either my sitting bone or where the buttock meets the back of your thigh. Okay. And now you secure it into place by pulling the heel in. And again, you're going to feel that same hamstring work that you felt when you were on the two blocks, when your foot was on the two blocks. From here, pull the knee up and away from the floor. And do you feel your hamstring here? Okay, then pull the knee in a little bit. It doesn't have to be all the way because you may notice that you start to lose the block. Then bring the leg out to the side, almost like a warrior two-leg. Then dip the knee down as you pull your heel up, circle the thigh back, press the thigh up. Now as you press the thigh up, exhale, pull your ribs down as you lift the thigh. You get really intense. So if you're cramping, you get a gold star. Take another breath here, then exhale, lower the right knee back down to the floor, shift yourself back and switch sides. So take the block behind your left heel, snug it into the back of the leg, into the back of the buttock rather. Once you have that secured, lift the knee up. Okay, so ribs pulling up towards the ceiling, thigh lifts up towards the ceiling. Then knee forward, keep pulling the heel into your block so you don't lose it. Then the knee out to the side like warrior two, dip the knee down as you pull the heel up. Feel the inner hamstring working here. Circle the thigh back, pull the heel into the buttock, lift the thigh up. Notice if the ribcage has come down, you're sort of sinking into the shoulders. Push the floor away, lift the ribs away, lift the thigh up and then as you exhale, lower your knee back down to the mat and you'll take the block out. Grab your other block, bring both of your blocks to the front of the mat and step your left foot forward. Tuck your right toes under, lift your right knee up so you come into a lunge. Then from here, pull the side ribs forward, the back of the head forward. Then get lighter in your hands and if that's going well, come on up, bend your right knee, move your tailbone down towards the floor and then start to straighten the right leg without dipping the pelvis forward. Tailbone drops, torso comes up and then straighten the right leg any amount. From there, inhale, lift your arms up, turn your palms to face forward, pull the elbows down. Draw your ribs back as you press your buttocks forward. Take an inhale and then as you exhale, tip the elbows up, tip your chest up towards the ceiling to create more of a back bend with a feeling in the upper back and a stretch along the front of the right hip without too much sensation happening in the lower back.

Then as you exhale, lower your palms back down to the floor or to your blocks and step your right foot forward. Inhale, elongate the spine. As you exhale, step your left foot back. Okay, gauge here by pulling the front ribs forward, press back through your left heel and if this is going well, get a little lighter in your hands, start to come upright, bend the left knee, drop the tail down. Bring the torso completely upright and if there's space to straighten the leg, straighten. Otherwise, keep it slightly bent or deeply bent. Inhale, lift the arms, turn the palms to face forward, bend the elbows. So without pushing the front ribs forward, keep them back, press your buttocks forward, ribs back, elbows start to lift. Then from there, take an inhale, exhale, tip the chest up towards the ceiling. So the sensation remains in the shoulder blades in the upper back, in the stretch in the front of the left thigh and hip. As you exhale, return your hands back down to your blocks and then lower your left knee down to the floor and step your right foot back. Take your blocks together and create a little block bench for yourself. Then you're going to grab your blanket. So if your kitty perhaps is on your blanket, I know it's time to wake up. Yeah, I'm going to take my blanket. Okay. I know you don't want to move. It's a very delicate situation here. Okay. Very good, honey. I know. Thank you. Cat owners know that is a no-no in cat owner land. Okay. So you'll grab your blanket and roll your blanket up a bit, maybe about halfway and take that to the front of the mat. You don't want it to be too high, but just enough to create a little incline for yourself. Then you'll take your blocks and place your blocks on the blanket. So the bottom tip is on the mat while the top edge of the blocks are on the blanket. If you find that it's too high, right, you can bring it down, pull the blanket back and then try that height. So the other thing to keep in mind is that parts of your body that might not be used to having blocks pressing into them are now going to have blocks pressing into them. But this is a really nice alternative if you don't have a bolster. So I would say if you need extra padding, you're going to go ahead and grab an additional blanket or you can flip this over and then have padding here. Okay. So it'll depend on your roll, how large you've made it, et cetera. Then you're going to take your hips and place your hips and a little bit of your abdomen on the blocks so that your pubic bone is actually hanging off of the blocks. Okay. All right. So then you're going to move your legs back. I'm just adapting as the situation calls for. Oh, okay. Even better. And then prop yourself up so that your chest is lifting like you're in a high cobra. Okay. And then you might walk yourself down just a little bit so that you can feel more weight in your legs. Then from there, you can pull your chest forward or stay upright for this. Bend one knee, grab your ankle, then bend your other leg. So again, it's that hamstring work. Pull the heel in like you're hugging that block and then rock your hand to your foot. From here, press back, lift your chest, and you may feel more stretching sensation along the skin on the front of your hips because of the tractioning that the blocks are giving it right now. Press your feet back, lift your heart up. Then as you exhale, slowly release. Okay. Bring one hand to the floor, lower the foot, release your other foot, other hand to the floor. And again, press down, lift up. As you exhale, lower your chest about halfway down, press your palms down onto the floor, lift your belly away from the blocks and then walk your knees forward. Okay. And that way the edge of the block doesn't really pull into the abdomen as much. Unwrap your block presence, take your blocks behind you and move your blanket aside. Take your legs out in front of you now and have your palms, have your fingertips facing behind you. Okay. So your blocks will be behind your body, behind your hips and slightly wider than your shoulders. Okay. Then from here, drive your heels down into the mat, push into your hands, lift your hips up, point the toes forward as you lift up. Take another breath here in this reverse tabletop position. Can you drag your heels isometrically back? So like this idea of dragging the heels. Then as you exhale, slowly lower your hips back down, bend your elbows and come to sit up. Okay. So now I love doing this seated on my block. Some of you may feel good in Marichyasana in this seated position and twist right on the floor, but it evolves into the arm balance. So I highly suggest that if you have your blocks to use them, you're going to create your block bench. If you want some extra padding, you're welcome to take the blanket and place the blanket on top of the blocks. Otherwise, come to sit on top of your blocks, straighten your legs, bend your left knee in towards your chest. And now with your right leg, like we did at the beginning of the practice, turn the leg out and bring the leg back into your externally rotating the right leg. Okay. Take one more external rotation of the leg, bring it back up, right? Take your right hand around the front of the shin, take your left hand right behind your left buttock and hold on to the block, either the back or the side of the block as you revolve the chest to the left. Then come back through center and we'll switch sides. Pull your right knee in towards your chest, straighten your left leg, roll the left leg out and back in. Roll the leg out and in, roll the leg out and back in. Take the left hand in front of the shin, right hand behind the buttock, inhale to lengthen, exhale turn. See if you can breathe into the back ribs, right? Puff the back ribs when you breathe. Notice if your left leg has rolled out, roll it back in and return to center. Okay. Bend the left knee, straighten the right leg. So again, roll the leg, roll the leg. This time we're going to let the leg come all the way over. So as we bring the right leg down, take your right hand behind you, like what we just did, that reverse tabletop.

Fingertips point towards the short edge of the mat behind you. Then I'm going to push down into my hand. My hand is slightly behind my shoulder. As I bring my right outer edge of the foot to the floor, my left buttock lifts away from the blocks and my right hip is heavy against the mat. From there, I lift my left heel up away from the floor and that's going to give us that feeling of our bridge pose, right? So push into the hand, push into the ball of the foot, into the outer blade of the foot, then lift your buttocks up and take your left arm, reach it overhead. So you're in rockstar or wild thing. Then to come out, lower the hands, start to lower the body with control, sit back onto your blocks, adjust yourself if you need. Marichyasana three, turn to the left. Return to center, bend your right knee, straighten your left leg, roll the left leg out to center, roll it out, center, roll it out. Okay, pause there as you set your left hand up. Take the left hand behind you, behind your left shoulder, because the action is lifting the hips up and as you lift your hips up, more weight comes back into your left shoulder. Okay, so you'll press the left hand down, come onto the ball of your right foot, push into the right foot as you bring the outer edge of your left foot down. So notice you can see here that my right buttock has now lost contact with the block. I push down through those surfaces to lift my hips up, think of that bridge pose here. Take the right arm up and overhead, wild thing or rockstar. Then to come out, very slowly lower yourself with control dropping the heel, adjust your seat as you need and come into your marichyasana twist. Then as you inhale, unwind, straighten your right leg and come off of your props, give them a side and make your way down onto your back. Take your arms out to the sides to a T, pull your fingertips towards your inner wrists, pause there for a moment, straighten your elbows if you can and then release the arms, release the hands. Cross your right leg over the left leg, stay here or draw the knees in towards the chest and hold onto the legs. So as you hold onto the legs, try to push your legs like you're going to straighten your legs. Okay, so there's a little bit of resistance as you pull back with the hands and so that action is going to help create a little more space in the wrists. And then stop trying to straighten the legs. Notice if your heels come a little bit closer down towards the floor. Soften your hands, place your feet back onto the floor and switch sides. Back leg over right leg, stay here or pull the knees in, hold onto the legs or the shins, feet, ankles, wherever you can hold. And again, try and straighten the legs. So as you're straightening the legs, you're also pulling back with the hands. And stop trying to straighten the legs, soften them, release your hands, unwind your legs and place the soles of your feet onto the floor. From here, cross your ankles or bring the soles of your feet together and let the knees come out to the sides. Take your arms overhead, bend the elbows like the cactus arms that we practiced before. And feel the feedback from the floor as the backs of the arms drop into the mat, shoulders, parts of your back, hips and legs. And cross your other ankle in front. Supta Sukhasana. And release your arms back down, take the soles of your feet to the floor and slide them forward, making your way into Shavasana. And feel free to prop your Shavasana however you'd like. Separate the backs of your teeth, releasing your jaw as you let the muscles of your face soften and back into the sensation of your breath. Shavasana. Shavasana, Shavasana. Deepen your breathing.

Feel your fingertips and your toes. Slowly pull your knees in towards your chest as you roll to one side. And using your hands, press yourself up into any comfortable seated position. Feel free to grab your props to prop yourself up to sit on. Take your hands to your heart. Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti. Om Peace, Peace, Peace. Namaste.


Jenny S
2 people like this.
Wild Thing was fun, but the CATS! I just adore our animal companions and this brightened my day 😻 At one point in my life I was adopted by a cat who used to love to crawl onto my tummy when I was in a supine yoga pose. I had no choice but to lie there (I just couldn’t disturb her) and we’d both have a little nap. She was a very wise teacher 🙏🏻
Rachel H
3 people like this.
Ingenious  practice. Love it. Thank you
Brenda K
I really love this teacher.  She is so creative.  As a retired P.T., I'm wondering if she has a similar background with some of her verbiage.  She's really awesome.  

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