The Vinyasa Show Artwork
Season 4 - Episode 8

Strong and Steady Arm Balances

35 min - Practice


Brenda guides us in a vinyasa sequence designed to prepare us for strong and steady arm balances. Building strength, heat, and concentration, we play towards Bhujapidasana (Arm-Pressing Pose) and Titibasana (Firefly). You will feel grounded and ready to fly.
What You'll Need: Mat

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(ocean waves splashing) Welcome back. We're gonna jump right into this practice and meet at the top of the mat. So let's start by grounding, start by welcoming yourself to your practice. Softening the breath. What I'm gonna encourage you to do through this practice is to get curious.

Almost like a kid curious. So that's really curious, you know? All those questions. What's going on? Why's that feel good?

How's that? And not that we need to answer them, but just start to inquire. Start to dive in, right? The more we can dive in the more we start to discover and the more that we can be inspired. Just getting a real sweet, smooth ujjayi pranayama.

Soft constriction in the back of the throat. And exhale, pressing the palms downward. Inhale, reaching the arms up. Exhale, fold forward uttanasana. Inhale, come halfway up.

Exhale, fold. Root to the feet, inhale, rise up. Exhale, fold right back in half, sun salutation. Inhale, halfway. Exhale, fold.

Root to rise, come back up. On this exhale bring the hands to the heart, toe heel the feet a little bit wider. Exhale, press the palms down. Inhale, rise up, this time on the exhale, draw down right into malasana. Palms down, inhale, hips lift, take the chest forward.

Exhale, fold. Root to the feet, inhale, rise up. A few more times like this, exhale, hands come right down through the center. Palms down, hips lift on the inhale with the chest reaching forward. Exhale, fold.

Root to the feet, inhale, rise up. Exhale, hands through center, right into malasana. It might be all the way down or you might pause halfway. Hands down, hips lift, chest lifts. Exhale, fold.

Root to rise, inhale, coming all the way up. Exhale, hands through heart center, malasana. Hands soft and hips lift. Chest lifts, exhale, fold. Inhale, rise that last time before we step it back.

Exhale, malasana. Hands down, hips lift, inhale, come halfway. First one, place the palms, step back, plank pose. Option the floor or take it all the way to chaturanga. Inhale, urdhva mukha.

Exhale, back adho mukha. Five breaths here, heels press back. Just tuning in, checking in. What kind of energy did you show up with today? Feel the inner upper arms spin forward, feel a little softness in the elbows.

Feel the energy like you're scooping out the armpits. On an inhale take the right leg high. Exhale, knee to nose. Place the foot down, warrior II, let your arms windmill you up. Getting into a little bit of rhythm repetition, right arm lifts up.

Right, from here in an exhale you're gonna take the hands inside, slide to the left, skandasana, right toes turn in. Inhale through center, you can use your hands, dip right hip towards the right heel. And inhale, come back through center, turn the right toes towards the front. Go to crawl forward into a runner's lunge, knee over ankle, back heel lifts. Palms pressed, take it into chaturanga.

Inhale. Exhale back. Left side, inhale, left leg lifts up. Exhale knee to nose, place the foot down, warrior II, drop the back heel, windmill up. Exhale back.

Shift the arms forward, slide into skandasana. Right toes. Inhale through center, exhale left sit bone dips. Inhale through center, turn the left toes to front. Crawl forward, runner's lunge.

Place the palms with control, step back chaturanga. Inhale urdvha mukha. Exhale back ahdo mukha. Three breaths. At the end of your third breath, take your gaze forward, step or hop.

Inhale, exhale, fold, toe heel to feet, hip distance to mat distance apart, come all the way up. Exhale come back down into malasana. Hands down, hips lift, inhale. Place the palms, step or hop back chaturanga or high plank to the floor. Inhale, exhale back one more time through the right side and left side.

Inhale, right leg. Exhale, knee in. Place the foot down warrior II, arms windmill up, right into reverse. On your exhale, hands come down inside, shift the hips to the left. Good, through center, shift the hips to the right.

Good, through center, right heel lifts. Crawl forward, runner's lunge, making your transition back, chaturanga. Inhale, exhale, back. Inhale, left leg lift. Exhale, knee to nose, sacred pause.

Place the foot, warrior II. Take it back. Exhale the hands inside the left thigh, slide to your right. Good, come through center, slide to your left. Go through center left, toes lift.

Crawl forward. Take that runner's lunge and press through the palms, step back, chaturanga. Inhale, exhale, back downward facing. Five breaths here. Completing your exhale, take your gaze forward, step or hop the feet up between the hands.

Inhale, come halfway up. Exhale, fold, take a moment, grabbing opposite elbows, let the head go. Wiggling through the shoulders. Good, bend the knees on an inhale rise up, utkatasana. Just slide the toes together, slide the knees together, lift the chest.

On an exhale, let your arms windmill back, reach them towards the sky, lift onto the balls of the feet. Inhale, right, if you wobble out, it's no big deal. Exhale, come forward, lift onto the balls of your feet, playing a bit with balance. Good, two more, inhale, play with dipping the chest down, lift the heels up, then one more. Exhale.

Right, from here, stay on the balls of the feet, take the arms down, see if you can work the knees up towards the triceps. Right, and for some, lift the feet up, bakasana. Play with bum up, heels in towards the bum, arms start to move toward straight and gaze starts to move forward. Right, two more breaths. So you choose the transition, stepping or hopping.

If you're hopping, land with elbows bent, use the core to lift up and out. Chaturanga. Move it through, we'll meet back in downward facing dog. Five breaths. Then taking the gaze forward, step or hop the feet between the hands.

Inhale, come halfway up. Exhale, fold, toe heel to feet, hip distance to mat distance apart, rise all the way up, urdhva hastasana. Exhale, right back into malasana. Hands down, hips lift. Inhale, rise up.

Plant the palms, step back, chaturanga or high plank to the floor, inhale. Exhale, back. So we're gonna start our next sequence just as we did through the first part of rhythm and repeat, take the right leg up. Exhale, knee to nose. Place the foot down, warrior II, right into reverse.

Exhale, skandasana, shift the hips to the left. Inhale through center, you can play with arms, no arms, you can support yourself, or not. Shift it back, right toes lift and then as we travel forward, right into warrior II. On an exhale, bring the forearm down to the thigh, left arm up, parsvakonasana. So either playing right here or bringing the hand down, I like to grab hold right above my ankle and press my knee back.

Take your left arm overhead. Gonna exhale, reach back behind you. Inhale, swoop the arm forward. Exhale back. Good, inhale forward.

Exhale. And as you come forward, spin the pinkie down from deep in the left shoulder joint. Good, come all the way back, this time hand can slide behind, creating that half bind. Draw the left shoulder back. Good, start to lengthen through the left leg, trikonasana, soft through the chin, soft through the neck.

Hand can be on the shin, floor, or block. Good, soften the gaze, take it towards your right, big toe. Toe heel, to back foot in, take the right hand forward. Shift it right into ardha chandrasana. So for some, you can play with the fingertips on the floor, maybe playing a bit with the balance.

Then releasing the bind, come back into warrior II. Right into reverse. We're gonna take it all the way through to chaturanga. Palms down, elbows bend, draw the outer arms in. Inhale.

Exhale. Press the thighs back. On an inhale left leg lifts. Exhale knee to nose. Place the foot down, warrior II.

Left palm lifts up and back. On your exhale, let the hands come down inside the left thigh, shift to the right. Again, your choice of using arms as support or taking them out wide. Good, back to center, left, toes lift. Good, crawling all the way forward, back into B.

Then into side angle pose. Right, so choosing forearm down, you can take hand inside or for some, you can also take hand to the outside of the left thigh. Exhale, reach back. Inhale, sweep forward, let the pinkie lead. Exhale.

Right, staying long through the torso, tapping into the upper back. Last one, this one, find the bind, reach back, bend the elbow, slide it under. And just pause, drawing the right shoulder up and back. Good, take the gaze down toward the big toe, start to lengthen through the left leg, little toe heel into the back foot. Start to open it up into half-bound trikonasana.

Soften through the left knee, take the gaze down, slide forward, half-bound ardha chandrasana, right leg lift. And again, you can play with left hand on the floor, or maybe playing with a little hover or balance. And then a soft step back. Warrior II. Right into reverse.

Windmilling the hands down, take it through your vinyasa. We'll meet back in downward facing dog. Exhale. And four rounds of breath. Taking the gaze forward, step or hop the feet up between the hands.

Try to end halfway. Exhale as you fold, toe heel to feet, hip distance to mat distance apart. Come on down into malasana. And just pause for a moment. Find a place where you can let your weight go down towards the sacrum and also this light lift up through the heart.

All right, so a little bit of play here. We start to take the right arm down. Option to take the bind and we're gonna come all the way up. So we'll see, sometimes this works for me, sometimes not. So as you shift into the left foot, you're gonna lift the right leg up.

So it's almost like bird of paradise, like in a little half malasana. All right, so softening the right shoulder down. And then come on back down, whoop, whoop. Nice and easy and back into malasana. All right, opposite side.

Left arm down, you can hang out right here. You can play with the bind as you hook the armpit around. Back arm comes forward, shift into your right leg. Squeeze in with the left armpit, whoop. (chuckles) All right, so you can readjust.

So you can lift up. So you're trying to stand out of this and be light on the shoulders. All right, and then softly lowering back down. Back into malasana. Good, exhale, hands down, lift the hips.

And halfway up, your choice of transition, stepping or hopping. Inhale, upward or low cobra. Exhale back downward facing. On an inhale, taking the right leg up. Exhale, knee to nose, entering this transition, the same as we started with, warrior II, right into reverse.

Exhale, skandasana, inside, option arms long. Transition. Good, right toes lift, take a pause, lift the heart. Hold, good, come forward into a runner's lunge. Bring the hands inside the right thigh.

So from here, option to stay right here or option to start to come down onto the forearms into lizard pose. Right, so more stability and strength by keeping the back leg lifted. You could also lower the back knee, bringing a little deeper stretch. Right, so every day is a little different, so choosing what works for you today. It's your choice to stay right here, or for some, you can start to play with the bind.

Lift up, work your right leg around as if you're kind of putting on your right leg like a backpack strap. You can play with arms out to the side. For some, take your right hand behind your back, left hand will come through and you might be able to grab the wrists, or like me, grab the fingertips. Chest reaches forward. Good, exhale, release.

Bring the hands back down, frame the front foot, step back, plank, chaturanga. Inhale. Exhale, back. On an inhale, take the left leg up, exhale, knee to nose. Place the foot down, warrior II, rise up right into reverse on your inhale.

Your exhale transition, skandasana. Turn the left toes in. Good, inhale, back to center. Shift, good. Inhale, shift and pause for just a moment, heart lifting.

Shift forward back into a runner's lunge, keep the hands inside. Draw the left hip back. Option to stay right here or start to lower down onto the forearms, lizard pose. Right, so again choosing, back leg can stay up or you can lower the back knee down, so feeling a draw back of the left heel. Feeling like you're dragging the right thigh forward.

Creates this inner scissoring option with the inner thigh, so it starts to draw up a little moola bandha, a little uddiyana bandha. So choosing to stay here or you can curl the back toes under, lift the hips, start to work the left arm underneath, kind of like a backpack strap. And then either hang out right here, or start to take the left arm behind, reach up, heart forward, right hand comes behind. So maybe, grabbing the wrist or the fingers. Long through the back of the neck.

So legs are strong, heart is soft. And exhale, release the hands down. Toe heel the foot back and step back. Plank to chaturanga. Inhale upward or low cobra.

Exhaling back. On an inhale, just step the right foot forward, bring the left knee and shin down, shift the hips back, it's your choice. Pause here or start to slide the right leg out into full hanumanasana. So choosing what's right for your body today. Peel the heart up.

You can either keep the back toes curled under or start to bring the top of the foot down. All right and just greeting, relationship with your left hip to, gently, gently, gently draw it forward. And gently lifting the hips. Transitioning back into a runner's lunge. Palms down and just step right back into downward facing dog.

Left foot will step forward. Right knee, shin down. Shift the hips back. Option, ardha hanumanasana, or for some let the heel spread long out in front. Full hanumanasana.

Top of the right foot can come to the floor or the toes can stay curled under. A light draw the right hip forward. A light draw of the left hip bone up. Nice and slowly coming on back into a runner's lunge, making your transition right back to downward facing dog, or move through one more vinyasa. And again, listening to your body, what feels right.

Complete your exhale, step or hop the feet up between the hands. Toe heel your feet, hip distance to mat distance, so a little wider, actually, a little wider than hip distance. You're gonna just bend your knees and just let your upper body just, oh, drag down. Right, so just tapping in a little bit here. Feel a little hollow out of the belly.

Start to lower the seat, come into malasana. Right, chest lifting, hands can either come to heart or if you prefer, they can hang out down. And any place that feels right where you can still lengthen through the spine. and so now we're gonna play with a couple arm balances. We're gonna play into bhujapidasana into titibasana.

And you can choose to stay right here to kind of move from here into a forward fold back and forth. Or if you want to give these a go, here we go. Bum is gonna lift. Feet are a little bit wider than hip distance apart. And as you let your upper body just go, you're gonna start to drape the shoulders underneath, again, you're just putting on your legs, like a backpack strap.

So for some, you might just get the arms under a little bit. For others, you might get all the way up towards your shoulders. So as you start to work them under, you're gonna squeeze your thighs or your knees, in towards your shoulders. And then start to lower down. If you can, bring your palms down.

Toe heel the feet in towards each other and then sit on your triceps. From here you start to rock back, hook the toes, bring the gaze forward. So option, the nice thing about this arm balance is if you fall, you're gonna fall on your butt and not your nose. All right, so option, hang out right here or start to straighten the legs into titibasana. So try to draw the heart forward, try to draw the shoulders back.

And then feet come back, slide forward, or fall on your bum, either/or. Let the body go, shake the head out. Just give a little bend of the knees. And then come back to feet hip distance apart. Lift up the front of the feet, take the hands underneath.

Back of the hands come to the floor, palms to the bottoms of the feet, padangusthasana. Inhale, come halfway up. Exhale, fold, put a little pressure on the palms. So just kind of opening up through the wrists, a lot of pressure doing arm balances. Okay, release the hands, come halfway up.

So one last option of play, coming into half titibasana with one leg long and half bakasana, where your knees up towards your upper tricep or your armpit. So to get into it, we're gonna start in standing split. Left foot down, take the right let up. It's your choice, you can always hand out here or you can start to move and we're gonna, again, find that action of taking the left shoulder around. So it's like you're putting your left leg on like a backpack strap again. (chuckles) Left hand comes down.

Set you arms like chaturanga arms, right knee is gonna come in towards the top of the armpit. And so for me to readjust, I do a little tap down of the right foot, bring the left leg forward and squeeze and bring your gaze forward. Try to lift your left foot, try to lift the right heel. And then we'll come back out. and then both feet down.

Give a little shake out. Let the head go. And then a little play on the right side. Right leg stays down, left leg comes up. Start in standing split.

And then same action, we're gonna take the right arm, start to move it behind. So playing with shoulder behind left leg reaching. Bring the right palm down. Bring the left knee towards the top of the arm. A little hook in there.

And then start to scoot the right foot forward, shoop. Foot forward and bend. And then we'll come on back out into a forward fold. And just walking back out into downward facing dog. Let the head go.

And taking a gaze forward, step or hop the feet all the way through. And you can also take a hop through and then just sit on your bum. Spinning around and slowly rolling down onto your back. When you're ready, rising up into bridge pose. So we did lots of forward folding, arm balancing, not a ton to warm up the back.

So this is just starting out into a light counter and there'll be an opportunity, if you'd like to go deeper, you can go into wheel. So just take a few breaths here. All right, and so if it calls to you and you wanna come up into full wheel, please do or please stay right here. So it's really tuning in, listening and learning about what's right for you in each moment. Maybe give a little shake out of the head.

And just three more breaths. Two more. And slowly tuck the chin if you're all the way up, lower down. Taking the right knee behind the left, coming into recline, gomukhasana. So as you draw the knees in, flex the feet and grab hold of the shins.

And then draw the knees in towards your chest. And just letting the head go. It's like this play of drawing in and then letting the sacrum get heavy. And slowly release the hands. Just let the arms open up wide, let yourself twist over to the right.

Keeping the left shoulder down, so you can stay right here or you can take the right hand to the thigh and start to turn your gaze toward your left hand. So it's when you arrive into your twist here, there's nothing to do, giving into gravity. Slowly coming on back up. Untwist the legs, this time take right over left, flex the feet, reach up, grab the shins and then lie back. Start to drawing the knees, start to come in towards the chest.

Sacrum starts to get heavy. And you can play with taking the shins and calves, kind of away if that feels a little bit better, or in. And slowly release the hands, let your knees fall off to the left. Give a little bump of your left hip to the right. And then open up into a twist.

So you can choose to keep the left arm out or to take the left hand to the right thigh. Slowly coming back to center. Take both knees into the chest, apanasana. Just kind of, either drawing strong in or just, I like a light little draw in to finish with. A little rock on my spine.

Right on my sacrum. And then slowly, one leg at a time, coming into your final pose, shavasana. To the palms up. Just let your breath find its natural rhythm. Let your body get heavy, playing with a softness right in the belly.

A softness at the base of the throat. And letting the eyes get heavy. Starting to bring your awareness to your breath. Beginning to tune into your physical body. And if you'd like, you can wiggle the fingers and the toes and start to take the arms overhead.

We're choosing to stay right here in shavasana. We can begin to roll to the right, coming up to a seated position. And as you lift up, try not to disturb yourself very much, keeping the eyes closed down. Thank you so much for practicing with me today. For getting curious, for diving in.

So much love, gratitude, and respect, namaste.


Toni B
2 people like this.
Really enjoyed this practice. Thank you for sharing Brenda x
Frederic M
1 person likes this.
Thanks Brenda. This is a great flow. I love your creativity with arm balances!
Erin G
That was so fun! Thanks
Catherine A
Super fun practice, Brenda, many thanks. Excellent prep for Titibhasana which I just about managed this time after many, many attempts

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