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9 Yoga Arm Balances You Can Do as Beginner Yogi

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a woman is doing dolphin pose or Ardha Pincha Mayurasana, yoga arm balances, arm balances poses
David Turner post Reviewer David Turner post Reviewer
Verified by David Turner
YMCA Yoga Instructor, BS in Sports & Fitness Management, Sadhana Yoga Flow Certification

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If you are a yoga beginner, performing arm balances may seem intimidating or even impossible. However, this fear often comes from the fact that you’re looking at poses that may truly be beyond your current scope.

Arm balances are challenging, but they become much less scary when you see them for what they are – a process itself.

In fact, complex poses and inversions like a handstand aren’t the only arm balances. Yoga arm balances include all poses that use your hands as a foundation. That means your legs don’t have to be lifted off the ground for a pose to be considered an arm balance. 

How To Prepare For Yoga Arm Balances?

Even beginner arm balances require some body and mind preparation. Here are the main tips to aid you in your practice and prevent injury.

Stage 1. Physical

  • Take it slowly. Instead of viewing it as the full expression of the pose, think about the steps that will get you there. When you approach the pose one step at a time, you might be surprised how effortless it becomes to reach the final shape. 
  • Protect your wrists. All arm balance poses are taxing on the wrist. Make sure you perform wrist warm-ups before and stretches after your practice to protect the wrists. While holding the poses, spread your fingers wide and press the fingertips firmly into the mat to feel more stable. 
  • Engage your core. Although arm balances use hands as the foundation, the core does most of the work. Make sure you are actively engaging your core muscles. You can perform warm-up exercises before your practice to help you activate the abs and back.
  • Activate your legs. Make sure you engage your legs and use them to aid you when you need to find your leverage and to take some weight off your arms when you’re holding the pose. 
  • Flex your feet. Flexing your feet will help engage your legs and make them feel lighter. Active feet will also protect the knee joints in many positions.
  • Fix your gaze. Find an unmoving dot somewhere in front of your body to help you find balance. Avoid looking up or back, as that might strain your neck.
  • Don’t forget to breathe! Holding your breath during an arm balance can be a natural reaction, but breathing along with the proper gaze can elongate your holds after you practice them over time. 

Stage 2. Mental

  • Believe in your capabilities. Try approaching yoga arm balance poses with a positive state of mind. Believing in yourself and having a confident mindset will help you perform the pose with a steady focus and breathing. 
  • Keep practicing. Last but not least, make sure you keep trying even after you fail. Hardly anyone nails yoga arm balances on the first attempt. Results will come with time and patience. 

9 Arm Balance Poses To Begin With

Here is a list of beginner arm balances you can try even with no prior yoga experience. 

Table Top Pose (or Bharmanasana)

a woman is performing Table Top Pose_yoga arm balances

Table Top Pose is a foundational asana that strengthens the chest and arms. It also opens the spine and may help with building better postural habits. 

How to perform:

  • Get on your hands and knees, so your back is flat and parallel to the ground. 
  • Keep your hands at shoulder-width and have your knees hip-width apart.
  • Gaze towards the floor and engage your abs. 

Pro tips:

  • Place a cushion under your knees if the pose causes discomfort.
  • Tuck in your lower abs to help with alignment and proper weight distribution.

Plank Pose (or Phalakasana)

a woman is performing plank pose_yoga arm balances

The plank pose works your entire body and is a great choice if you only have time for one pose. It strengthens your abs, quads, arms, shoulders, back, and glutes

How to perform: 

  • Begin in Table Top Pose.
  • Move your feet back as much as you need to extend your legs.
  • Activate your abs and move slightly forward in order to manage the weight equally between your arms and your legs. 
  • Gaze down to maintain a neutral spine. 

Pro tips:

  • If this pose strains your wrists or you want to activate your core even more, practice on your forearms.
  • If your hips are dropping, try practicing on your knees first. 

Four-Limbed Staff Pose (or Chaturanga Dandasana)

a woman is performing Four-Limbed Staff Pose__yoga arm balances

This pose is included in Sun Salutations and is one of the first yoga arm balances beginners learn. It’s a powerful position that will strengthen your entire core, arms, wrists, and ankles.

How to perform: 

  • From High Plank Pose, move your torso slightly forward.
  • Now bend your elbows and lower your body, so you’re hovering just an inch off the ground. 
  • Keep your elbows close to your body and engage your core. 

Pro tips:

  • Engage your biceps and triceps to feel strong in this pose.
  • Practice with bent knees when the full expression is too difficult.

Downward Dog Pose (or Adho Mukha Svanasana)

a woman is doing Downward Dog Pose_yoga arm balances

Downward Facing Dog Pose is one of the core asanas in all dynamic yoga styles and is performed in Sun Salutations. This full-body pose strengthens the front of your body and lengthens your hamstrings, hip flexors, and back.

How to perform:

  • Begin in Tabletop Pose, and place your hands slightly in front of your shoulders.
  • Lift your hips and extend your knees. Push the heels towards the ground.
  • Drop the head and keep your back long, creating a triangle shape with your body. 

Pro tips:

  • Keeping a long spine is more important than touching the heels to the floor. Bend your knees as much as you need to find length in your back.

Side Plank Pose (or Vasisthasana)

a woman is doing Side Plank Pose_yoga arm balances

If you’ve practiced Plank Pose for a while and want to take it to the next level, try this variation. Side Plank is a fantastic pose for strengthening your arms and wrists and is one of the rare poses that taps into your side abs. Finally, it’s an awesome asana to work on your arm balancing skills. 

How to perform:

  • Begin in Plank Pose and roll to the edge of your right foot.
  • Stack your left foot on top of the right and open your torso towards the left side.
  • Open your left arm towards the sky. 
  • Your body should form one diagonal line from your feet all the way up to the top of your head. 

Pro tips:

  • Keep the bottom hand slightly in front of the shoulder, not directly under it.
  • If it’s too difficult to balance, bend the top leg and place the foot in front of your hips, turned away from you, to act as a kickstand.
  • Keep the hip towards the ground lifted as the core is engaged to avoid slouching. 

Wild Thing (or Camatkarasana)

a woman is doing Wild Thing Pose_yoga arm balances

This pose looks graceful – but it may also appear complex. Still, you might be surprised at how quickly you nail it, which will boost your confidence for other advanced asanas. Wild Thing Pose will open the front of your body and build strength in the wrists, shoulders, and upper back.

How to perform:

  • Begin in Downward Facing Dog. Roll on the outer edge of your right foot.
  • Step your left foot behind your body, and set it where it naturally falls. Keep the knee bent. 
  • Now open your body to the left, keeping the hips high and extend your arm overhead. 

Pro tips:

  • Distribute your weight evenly between the hand and the legs to make this pose easier.
  • If practicing with one leg extended is too difficult, you can also keep both legs bent.

Wheel Pose (or Urdhva Dhanurasana)

a woman is performing Wheel Pose_yoga arm balances

One of the most iconic yoga poses, Wheel Pose, is an arm balance pose and a deep backbend in one. It will strengthen your arms, abs, and spine, while also teaching you the concentration and balance skills you’ll need for other advanced yoga poses.

How to perform:

  • Begin lying on your back and bend your knees, so your feet are close to your buttocks.
  • Place your hands behind your shoulders, so they face towards you. 
  • Press your feet and your hands firmly into the ground, and lift your entire body off the floor. 

Pro tips:

  • This pose requires a lot of flexibility in the upper body. You can prepare yourself with Bridge, Camel, and Bow pose. 

Scale Pose (or Tolasana)

a woman is doing Scale Pose_yoga arm balances

This is the first arm balance pose on this list where you lift your legs off the ground. It’s still one of the best beginner arm balances as your upper body will still be upright. Without an inversion, it won’t feel scary but it will still help you begin working on your grip, balance, and stability. 

How to perform:

  • Begin in Lotus Pose with your palms by your sides (the closer the hands are to the hips, the easier for lift-off).
  • Push your hands into the floor, engage your core, and lift your legs and hips off the ground. Lock elbows or get your arms as straight as possible. 

Pro tips:

  • If Lotus Pose is not in your practice, you can also attempt to lift from Easy Pose or Staff Pose. You will probably need to leave your feet on the ground for these variations.
  • Practice with blocks beneath your hands to help you with the lift-off. 

If you don’t feel confident practicing on your own, you can always join a yoga studio or use technology like a yoga app to help you.

Crow Pose (or Bakasana)

a woman is performing Crow Pose_yoga arm balances

After practicing Plank and Chaturanga for a while, you might be ready for Crow Pose. This is often the first “real” arm balance pose students learn because you are remaining close to the floor and there are many ways to modify and simplify it. Although it isn’t easy, once you get the hang of it, you’ll be able to progress to a whole world of new asanas as a result. 

How to perform:

  • Begin in a low squat with your knees wide apart and your hands on the floor in front of you.
  • Bend your elbows and place your knees on top of your upper arms. 
  • Reach your torso forward and lift your toes off the ground.

Pro tips:

  • You can lift just one foot off the ground when you’re learning the pose.
  • Place a cushion in front of your head if you’re afraid you’ll fall.
yoga exercises for beginners

Final words

Arm balance poses seem much more accessible when you see there are many beginner-friendly asanas in this category. By starting to practice them right away, you will:

  • Build strength in the upper body and wrists.
  • Gain the confidence to try something new.
  • Develop the core strength required for all balancing poses.
  • Improve your balancing skills.
  • Learn to approach poses one step at a time. 

All of these benefits are a part of having a strong foundation. Once you’ve built your base, you will feel ready to approach more advanced yoga hand balance poses.

Disclaimer This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!

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