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How to Balance on Your Hands

Last week we talked about how to balance really well on your feet (or, better yet, one foot). This time let’s flip the script and balance on our hands.

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This is a little more of an advanced topic, but it’s always amazing to be able to balance on your hands, whether you’re in a handstand (confession: I still can’t do one) or a yoga pose like crow (now that I can kinda do). Yoga teacher Robin Penney says, “Here’s why I teach [arm balances]: Because it’s so exciting to watch students do things that they didn’t think they could ever do, AND to find variations of these poses that work for THEM.”

So give an arm balance a try. Crow is a good one to start with: you have your hands on the ground, but your body is folded up with your knees resting on your arms. There’s a version called the frog stand that’s used in calisthenics to build strength and control before you learn how to do handstands. Yes, it’s scary the first time you try it, but it’s more accessible than it looks. Here’s a video tutorial on the frog stand, and here’s one for crow pose.

When you’re balancing on your hands, think about them the same way we did feet last time. Pretend that each hand is a tripod, or that it has four corners, and try to distribute your weight equally among them. Instructors sometimes say it should feel like you’re “gripping the floor,” engaging all the muscles of your hands and forearms to keep you stable. Many moves that you do on your hands can also be done on your forearms to give you a more stable surface on the ground: handstands, headstands, and even crow can work that way. (In crow, your feet and your nose will both be about an inch off the ground. It still counts!)

If all that is a bit much, don’t worry—we’ll come back to some simpler exercises next week. But don’t be afraid to throw some pillows on the floor around you and get a little bit out of your comfort zone.

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