arm Balances: Protraction

Finding Ease and Lightness in Arm Balances

 

ARM BALANCE STRENGTH BUILDING

Most who practice yoga have come to realize that the practice requires a certain physical strength that doesn’t necessarily coincide with the image of strength in our head. Every yogi has seen a physically in-shape gym goer walk into a yoga class and struggle in his/her first down dog. The reason for this is because there are tons of muscles in the body, and all of them have a purpose. The ones you see on the surface are called the superficial muscles, and their job is primarily to create big movements like swinging a baseball bat, jumping, climbing, etc. While many Yoga postures and transitions require the use of these muscles, the Deep muscles or stabilizing muscles are often most used. In this video, I go over the muscle groups that I find are most important for the majority of arm balances.

Serratus Anterior

The muscles I speak of in this video are the Serratus Anterior, and the 4 layers of abdominals (rectus abdominis, external obliques, internal obliques, and transverse abdominis). Serratus Anterior is incredibly important for many arm balances because it creates stability in the shoulder blades and moves the body away from the ground. In the “Handstand Strength Training” video I give exercises in plank pose to help students develop the strength of this muscle. When this muscle is fully engaged in plank the body is further away from the ground. The same is true in arm balances. Further from the ground begins to feel lighter and easier, and as mentioned in the video above, your wrists will feel better as well. The reason you feel lighter and more at ease when the Serratus Anterior is fully engaged is simple- all muscles have an easier time contracting when they are fully shortened. Think of your bicep muscle; isn’t it easier to hold a weight in your hand when your hand is closest to your shoulder vs halfway down at the “holding a tray” position. Part of this is the relationship to gravity but even if you changed the angle of your body that would still be the easiest position for the muscles to be engaged. This is the same reason why it’s easier to do a little tiny pull-up vs going through the full range of motion from straight arms all the way up to bent arms. If you are looking to build strength in the Serratus Anterior I suggest checking out either “The Breakthrough” or “The Chakras and The Elements”. Both immersion focus on strength building for arm balances. 

October Livestream Yoga Classes

THE BREAKTHROUGH

FOCUS: ARM BALANCES & HIP OPENERS

  • Build Upper Body Strength
  • Release Hip Tension
  • Learn Techniques to make hip opening and arm balances more accessible!
  • Experience the revelatory "aha" moments in the postures you struggle with
  • Uncover your range of motion and flexibility
  • Release low back tension through hip opening
  • 12 All Levels Live Asana Classes
  • Lifetime Unlimited Access to All

 

Arm Balances: The Core

The four abdominals have multiple functions including flexion (rounding) of the spine, twisting, side bending, stabilizing, and compressing/lifting inner organs (primarily the transverse abdominis). Depending on the pose, many arm balances require one or more abdominals to engage because of the shape, and because they have the ability to make the midsection more compact. The more compact you feel, the lighter you will feel because all the extremities tend to pull in closer to the center of gravity when the abdominals engage. What I am not going over in this video is the important role that your legs play within all arm balances. I will be releasing another video on Youtube soon showing you how the legs relate to the core. If you are interested in finding out when that video goes up, subscribe to my newsletter and I will let you know. Developing strength in the abdominals has long been a part of the fitness industry, but until recently it was purely for visual purposes. Most people associate having a six-pack with health, but the reality is that it’s more important to have core intelligence than strength. A little strength and a lot of awareness go a very long way, much further than a lot of strength and little awareness of how to use it. Developing strength through applied actions such as doing handstand, crow pose, or exercises that produce greater intelligence in your body is what I focus on in my handstand and arm balance practice. As a result not only do I feel strong in my asana practice but my back feels great, and I am able to apply the awareness to other activities that require body intelligence. For my favorite core strengtheners you click here, or if you are looking for free ways to learn, simply search youtube for how to strengthen the 4 muscles of the core (searching each muscle separately). Anyone who offers an application for the strength and not just the exercise is likely thinking along the same lines of “muscle intelligence” vs strength. Remember you want to know what the muscle does intellectually and know what it feels like in your body. That combination will make it easier to apply later on to your practice!

October Livestream Yoga Classes

CHAKRAS AND ELEMENTS

FULL BODY AWAKENING

  • Unlock Your Hips!
  • Awakem Your Arm Balance Practice
  • Detailed Ankle and Feet Articulation
  • Develop Low Back and Buttock Strength
  • Strengthen Your Core
  • Release S.I. Joint Pain
  • Release Neck Pain
  • The July Immersion Has it ALL
  • Each Chakra & Element is Paired with an Area of the Body and Muscle Group
  • 12 All Levels Live Asana Classes
  • 4 Live Guided Meditations

 

arm balance strength for shoulders

Plank at the Wall

Taking plank at the wall is one of the best ways to truly develop proprioception for protracting the shoulder blades. As mentioned in the video protraction is when you push the shoulder blades apart from one another and they move around your rib cage. This is an activation of the serratus anterior muscles which tend to require strengthening for most people. At the wall, you can focus on the action without the requirement of strength.

arm balance strength for crow pose

Flexion of the Spine

Flexion of the spine in arm balances requires the muscular activation of the rectus abdominals, obliques, and likely the deep core muscles. While it is possible to do arm balances with the core completely relaxed and still hold the postures, it tends to be easier with the recruitment of them. To develop strength in your core, I highly recommend my top exercises on the Handstand Training video. 

arm balance strength of the core

Crow With Protraction and flexion

Putting the two actions together might sound complicated but the two actions actually go hand in hand. Protraction makes spinal flexion easier to access and vice versa. I recommend first trying this in plank posture. If you haven’t yet watched the two blogs on Chaturanga, this is the best place to start integrating protraction into your arm balances. After you’ve worked with chaturanga, if you feel confident balancing crow then you can try applying these actions.

First Awareness, Then Strength.

It’s easy to try and jump ahead and go straight to our most challenging arm balance posture and try to apply new actions to it. This approach is okay but if you find that you are not getting it or not feeling a difference, it’s likely because your body needs to develop an awareness around the action itself before it can build strength. We need to create the feedback loop in our body from thought to action to sensation and back again. Once that feedback loop is established, strength can be built through repetition.

Thanks for joining me here. I hope these tips help with your practice and/or your teaching. Please share your comments, questions, or requests and I will get back to you.

-Matt

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

Handstand Strength Training

Learn the techniques that make Handstand fun, easy, and accessible! This collection of the top 12 most effective exercises will make you rethink how you approach handstand and what is possible, so you can finally build the proper strength and awareness it takes to hold a handstand.

Continue Learning

Breathwork & Chapasana

Breathwork & Chapasana

Breathwork and Chapasana Deep Core Work for Greater Openingheart openerBREATHWORK AND CHAPASANA It’s pretty well understood that the way we utilize our breath in our yoga practice will affect our experience. We also can’t escape the fact that this understanding leads...

read more
Learn To Fly In Side Crow

Learn To Fly In Side Crow

Learn to Fly in Side Crow Get to the Core with 3 VariationsARM BALANCELEARN TO FLY IN SIDE CROW Getting to the core of this arm balance will awaken a potential in your body that you may not be aware is even present. Learning to fly in Side Crow actually goes deeper...

read more
Create Fluency In Your Flows

Create Fluency In Your Flows

Create Fluency in Your Flows Workshop These Vinyasa TransitionsFLUIDITYIS IT "FIND" OR "CREATE" FLUENCY IN YOUR FLOWS? It’s most definitely possible to say “find” fluency in your flows when it comes to a Vinyasa-style yoga practice, but I believe “create” is a more...

read more
Build Strength & Endurance

Build Strength & Endurance

Build Strength and Endurance Infuse Calisthenics Into Your Yoga PracticeresilienceSTRENGTH AND ENDURANCE WITH CALISTHENICS There are both simple and more complex ways of infusing calisthenics into your yoga practice, especially as you get stronger and build upon...

read more
Eka Pada Koundinyasana 2

Eka Pada Koundinyasana 2

Eka Pada Koundinyasana 2 Five Drills for Greater Accessflying splitsEKA PADA KOUNDINYASANA 2: STRENGTH AND POISE The elegant long lines of a posture like Eka Pada Koundinyasana 2 require a great deal of strength and preparation. The pose also requires both ease and...

read more
Smooth Seated Jump Throughs

Smooth Seated Jump Throughs

Smooth Seated Jump Throughs Skillful Transition Techniques SimplifiedmovementSEATED JUMP THROUGHS It’s true that seated jump throughs are an example of how to seamlessly create a link between two yoga postures, but they also provide a lot of information about how you...

read more

THE FREE TECHNIQUE PACK

When You Subscribe You Will Get Instant Access To

  • The Technique Pack: 15 Yoga Pose Breakdowns
  • Exclusive Online Course Discounts
  • Exclusive Blogs and Videos
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
NEW YEAR SALE EVENT! 25% OFF 2020-2022 IMMERSIONS
10
days
10
hours
10
minutes
10
seconds
🎉 NEW YEAR 2023: 30% OFF 2020-2022 ONLINE IMMERSIONS!
10
days
10
hours
10
minutes
10
seconds
Congratulations, your 25% discount code has been applied and will be reflected at the very bottom at checkout page
Overlay Image
NEW YEAR SALE! Congratulations, your 25% discount code has been applied and will be reflected at the very bottom of the checkout page

Thank you! check your email for your free training and be sure to put matt@theyogimatt.com in your VIP or drag emails from me from your spam or "promotions" folder to your Inbox folder. This is where you will receive your FREE videos!

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This!

Hey. thank you for reading. If this is helpful please share it!

Shares