Arm Balances: Gateway to Female Empowerment

Contributing writer By Heidi Kristoffer
Contributing writer
Creator and producer of Microsoft Bing Fitness Yoga, Creator of CrossFlowX, creator and star of Revive Yoga with Heidi Kristoffer, as well as yoga and vegan expert for SHAPE.com, Heidi is a yoga instructor who leads workshops and retreats across the globe and at The Movement in NYC.

"Oh My Buddha! I am holding my entire body weight in my arms, balancing on my hands! I am holding myself up! I am SUPPORTING myself! NO WAY!" -- Just a few of the many ecstatic thoughts running through my head during my very first arm balance.

Maybe it was some silly old-fashioned idea ingrained in me early in life that women weren’t meant to support themselves, but in that first arm balance, when I realized I had the ability and strength to literally hold myself up with my own two hands, it was a life-altering event! It gave me an overwhelming sense of empowerment that moved way beyond my yoga practice and into every aspect of my life. All of a sudden, new possibilities seemed endless. I didn’t need anyone else to support me, because I can support me!

I am not saying there is anything wrong with leaning on others for help, but anyone who knocks arm balances or inversions, labeling them as “showing off”, I simply can’t agree with. Really, if that were true, then why are they a part of this amazing Yoga practice that has been around for millenniums?

One of my favorite things about yoga is that it is not a competition. Not with myself, not with my yesterday self, and certainly not with anyone else. One thing I am sure of: when I am practicing, I am on my mat, in the breath, in the moment. As one of my teachers once said, “there is no such thing as watch-asana.” When I am moving through my practice, transitioning through arm balances, turning my whole world and perspective upside down in inversions, I can’t help but feel strong, renewed and whole.

Besides, we spend most of our lives on our legs and feet; don’t they deserve a break? It’s no secret that I would much rather be on my hands than on my feet (and I am any chance I get!) Why don’t you give it a whirl and see how it makes you feel?

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