In the ‘Hard Yoga Poses Made Easy’ series, we focus on a particular yoga pose or skill that seems (or is) very difficult and we make it a lot easier by breaking it down into actionable, realistic, and sequential steps.
In this tutorial, we piece together Hurdler pose (also known as Eka Pada Koundinyasana 2) and, just like a hurdler, you’re going to need a lot of range of motion in your hips to be stable in this pose. So that’s where we start.
Step 1 is all about adductor (inner thigh) stretching and mobility work. You need this area to be functionally mobile in general, but it also helps to have this range of motion for Hurdler.
Step 2 is about building strength in a flowing movement that approach the entry to the pull arm balance. You might be familiar with the “knee-to-elbow” movement if you’ve ever take a flow or vinyasa yoga class before. Unlike most classes, our approach is for you to slow this movement down as much as possible so you can own the strength you develop and notice the changes in your hip mobility over time. No momentum here, friends!
In step 3, we make one small change to step 2 — holding the knee to the elbow instead of touching and releasing. If your looking core core, arm, and shoulder strength, this step is going to be money for you.
Step 4 respects the fact that you probably haven’t developed quite enough hip mobility to take the full pose yet, and also respects that you’ve earned at least an attempt at the arm balance. So, here you’ll keep your front knee bent and work towards the body awareness needed to lift the back leg off the ground and counter balance by drawing the chest forward. (Ain’t easy).
Finally, after potentially months of work, you’re ready for the full pose, drawing the front knee to straight and, having earned arm balance body awareness in step 4, hovering and flying over the mat with ease.
This is a great first or second arm balance for newer students to play with. It’s generally pretty safe as long as you respect your hip mobility and aren’t afraid of falling on your face a few times.
As a side note, avoiding face planting is a really good motivator for figuring out how to arm balance.
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