Ever found yourself needing a little extra courage for your arm balances? Our inspiring Forrest Yoga Teacher, Kristi Johnson, shares her tips to take you to the next level. Together with her latest Arm-Balancing Videos, here is the recipe for arm balancing success!
I remember the first time I tried to surf. It was exhilarating and terrifying all at the same time. The sea is powerful and unpredictable, and there is no way of controlling it. There is this moment at the edge of the wave, when you can either go with the flow and ride it, or hesitate, face-plant and be pulled straight under with the surfboard in tow.
Arm balancing is a lot like surfing in this sense. It requires some effort but the most essential part of getting it comes from the ability to let go of the mind and allow the breath and body to work together, to find balance and lightness.
Quite honestly, I have always enjoyed arm balancing, even in the earlier stages of my practice. I am of the stronger, tighter build, and a hard worker. I’ll dive at anything that requires strength and effort. But there is this misconception that arm-balances are all about strength and effort. It’s not the case.
When we are forcing anything, it becomes more difficult. When we push to the point where we are restricting our breath, we are cutting off energy. When we attach our minds to a particular outcome or belief, we lose the space needed to allow things to flow in the moment. It’s more about creating the space and energy to make the impossible, possible.
The real magic of arm balancing is in the lightness and ease. Breathing deeply is foremost. The breath connects us to our body, to feeling, and opens the senses. Breath is also the foundation of a yoga practice, and so without it, we are just pushing ourselves into different shapes. When the breath is deep and focused, the mind is quiet. It is the mind that over analyses, feeds our fears, and makes us unsteady by pulling our focus away. To find balance we need to integrate stillness of the mind. Being playful is also an active ingredient. Laughing at ones self takes the pressure off. It encourages us to move fearlessly, allows experiences to unfold spontaneously, and stops us from taking things so damned seriously.
In my personal arm-balancing practice I have applied these ingredients, and it has made the world of difference. With a deeper quality of breath and stillness, I have found a quality of balance in my efforts, rather than “killing myself trying”, or attempting to “nail” a pose. As a result, I have moved into places I least expected. Like riding a wave, I now play with surfing gravity from one arm balancing pose to another, and yes it is nerve racking at times, but oh so exhilarating!
This post was written by Kristi Johnson, a London-based certified Forrest Yoga Teacher, originally hailing from New Zealand. Discovering the physical, emotional, and spiritual practice of yoga when moving to Hong Kong in 2003, Kristi became qualified as an Anusara Yoga teacher and began her teaching career. It is through Forrest Yoga that Kristi found healing, and discovered the true power and unfolding beauty in her own life. Practice Kristi’s live classes and workshops from anywhere.