Our challenge this month is arm balances to emulate the flowers popping up for spring. I know that some of you still have snow, so you can show the flowers how it's done. (pictured is Sharon in sidecrow)
We had originally suggested tittibasana as a pinnacle pose. But going through Light On Yoga I was realizing that pinnacle poses abound in this area. So if there's a particular arm balancing pose that's your dragon you can choose to work on slaying it as you wish.
Since Elena told us that Ana Forrest said gravity surfing is 1000% abs and 10% balance, any ab work will help with this challenge. The good new is that it will also help with inversions and life in general. I'm coming to a point in my life where I realize that ab strength might be the beginning for everything. The end is your choice. Strong abs will get you on the road.
So pick your ab poison. Of course any ab workout wouldn't hurt, Lotte Berk, Kari's Curl, insert your favorite. Here are some yoga pose sugestions for ab strengthening and stretching:
1)Paripurna navasana (full boat pose)
2)Ardha navasana (half boat pose)
3)Urdhva prasarita padasana (30-60-90 pose, or as John Schumacher says it's a fancy sanskrit way of saying leg lifts)
4)Jatjara parivartanasana (revolved belly pose and vairations)
5)Supta padagusthasana (reclined leg stretch, head raised variation)
6)Bharadvajasana (seated twist)
7)Marichyasana (seated twist)
8)Ardha Matsyendrasana (half twist)
Not strictly poses, but kriyas (practices) that will strengthen your abdominals, these are included in several of Ana Forrest's Intensive CDs
9)Uddiyana bandha (belly flies up, belly lock)
10)Nauli (abdominal churning)
I picked some other poses which could be considered preps for the more drawn in arm balances.
11)Malasana (garland pose, yogic squat)
12)Pasasana (noose pose, sort of a twisted yogic squat)
OR any of the twists
13)Padmasana (lotus pose) could come in handy in some of the arms balances that include it.
14)Chaturanga dandasana (builds arm strength)
On to the arm balances, approximately from easiest to hardest:
15)Lolasana (dangling earring pose)
16)Tolasana (scales pose)
17)Kukkutasana (rooster pose)
18)Purvottanasana (inclined plane, or reverse plank)
19)Astavakrasana (8-bends pose)
20)Eka pada bhujasna (I think this is the one called elephant trunk, one leg up on outside of shoulder, one extended forward)
21)Dwi hasta bhjasana (same as above but with both legs extended forward)
22)Bhujapidasana (shoulder pressure pose, similar to above, but with both legs on outside of shoulders)
23)Mayurasana (peacock pose)
24)Pinca mayurasana (elbow balance, forearm stand, whatever name you prefer, yes the inversion)
25)Adho Mukha Vrksasana (downward facing tree, AKA full arm balance, AKA hand stand)
26)Vasisthasana (side plank)
27)Bakasana (crow or crane pose)
28)Parsva Bakasana (side crow or crane)
29)Urdhva kukkutasana (upward rooster, same as rooster, but legs are behind arms in lotus instead of arms thread through legs)
30)parsva kukkutasana (imagine above twisted)
31)Tittibhasana (firefly pose)
32)Galavasana (I don't know the common name for this but it's on p.325 of Light on Yoga)
33)Eka pada galavasana p.327 LOY
34)Eka pada koundinyasana I (scissors, as named by Ana Forrest)
35)Eka pada koundinyasana II (twisted scissors, as named by Ana Forrest)
36)Eka pada bakasana I (one leg in crow, one extended back)
37)Eka pada bakasana II (one leg in crow, one extended forward)
38)Vrschikasana I (scorpion pose)
39)Vrschikasana II (scorpion pose with arms extended as in hand stand)
OK sure, most of those are crazy, but I left out even more crazy ones included in Light On Yoga. I included some of the crazier ones because they are included in Ana Forrest Intensives. Arm balances are a major challenge for me, so I'll be working on the easier ones. I'll be thrilled if I can get crow for any amount of time. I can do full arm balance (hand stand), but the more balled up ones are so much more difficult for me. The point is not to do or die, the point is to try! Working towards arms balances and strengthening those abs! (pictured is Megan in tittibhasana)
Here are some media suggestions:
Yoga Journal Step-by-step Vol 3; includes crow and full arm balance.
Gaiam's Yoga for Upper Body with Rodney Yee
Ana Forrest's Strength & Spirit; the ab segment especially will help to prepare you for arm balances.
Yoga Shakti; The core/ab segment includes lolasana, tolasana, and vasisthasana as well as some really good Forrest style ab work. The inversion segment includes full arm balance and the shoulder segment includes pinca mayurasana.
Rodney Yee's Power Yoga for Strength
Rodney Yee's Yoga for Strength; the second practice in particular includes a lot of arm balances.
Rodney Yee's Yoga for Intermediates the second segment includes full arm balance.
Power Yoga for Happiness includes eka pada galvasana in the Magically Hips routine
Ana Forrest's Intensive CDs; the holy grail of ab work and arm balances (gravity surfing )
Shiva Rea's Yoga Sanctuary : the solar practice has a balance section that includes firefly and crow
Alive Yoga downloads:
Turn Your World Around: Building Strength for Inversions - Heidi
Moving Towards Leg Behind the Head - Heidi (I think this would help with getting the legs in the right place for arm balances, a struggle for me)
Working Toward Forearm Stand - Mimi
Building a Foundation for Inversions - Mimi
Building Towards Arm Balances - Mimi
Working Towards Split Arm Balances - Mimi
Julie Gudmestad on arm balances: Face Your Fears of Falling
Detailed instructions and preps for Tittibhasana (Firefly pose) by Barbara Benagh
Barbara Benagh's tips for Bakasana (crow)
Lolasana for Beginners by Peter Sterios
John Friend's tips for Bhujapidasana
John Schumacher's instuctions for Astavakrasana (eight angle pose)
Donna Farhi's instructions for Bakasana (crow)
Beryl Bender Birch's instructions for Parsva Bakasana (side crow)
Ana Forrest has pictures of both preps and full arm balance poses on her site.