Arm Balances: Gateway to Female Empowerment

Written by Heidi Kristoffer

"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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