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Arm Balances: When Things Get Tough

At the beginning of my classes, I usually tell my students in the first few minutes what the focus of the class will be. And I am always hesitant to tell my students that we will be focusing on arm balances during the class. Because when I do - I usually see a look of panic across the faces of my students. Challenging poses such as arm balances can bring up a whole array of feelings for students - and most often, it is the feeling of ‘I can’t.’

What I tell my students is that we use challenging poses such as arm balances as a way to observe ourselves when the going gets tough. When you are faced with a challenge, what comes up in your mind? Do you immediately start thinking defeating thoughts? Do you get attached to if you can do the pose or not? If you can, do you feel proud? And if you can’t do you feel like a failure? While these are normal human thought patterns, it is interesting to be aware where the mind goes in the face of challenge.

Instead of thinking I can or I can’t, or this is my goal to achieve, what if we flipped our mindset and were just open to letting what happens happen?

What if we practice without attachment to the outcome, and instead use the process as one of self-discovery. 

Challenging poses like crow pose are a great way to learn about your body from a physical perspective - how the body works together in unison, where is your center of balance, etc. And arm balances also are a wonderful way to learn about ourselves - our mental patterns, our attachment to achieve, and learning to be open to just letting the journey unfold. Yogis know that even when we fall - we still build, learn, and grow.

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