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Hip focus and arm balances for experienced students

Hip-opening exercises and advanced balancing poses.

Contents

Introduction

This sequence aims first to help us work through the hips and groins to create opening and space to prepare us for the arm balances later in the sequence. The balances are creative poses, poses that require us to use “intelligence,” in a yoga sense, to create as much evenness and integration as possible. Then less effort is required. Do this sequence with those things in mind so that you end up striving not so much to achieve the “end pose,” but more to create an ease and understanding concerning the actions required.

Start off in Supta Virasana, with the supports you need, and then extend forward to release the back and start connecting to the arms before going to Adho Mukha Svanasana. Here you will use repetitions of Adho Mukha Svanasana and Virasana forward, moving on the breath with a steady even rhythm. This helps to dispel dullness or stiffness as well as to energise.

Continue now with Adho Mukha Vrksasana done twice, changing the leading leg the second time. Work to hold the free balance on each side for a few seconds before you come down. Pincha Mayurasana away from the wall and start to question what is required to balance in asana overall.

We then do a few poses to bring an opening into the hips and groins: Vrksasana, Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana 2 to the wall, and Ardha Chandrasana wiht the back foot to the wall. Continue with Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana 1, Garudasana, and Standing Bhekasana, bringing extension into the front and back of the legs.

Sirsasana, Parsva Sirsasana with bent and straight legs, and Eka Pada Sirsasana. (The alternative is going back over the chair in Dvi Pada Viparita Dandasana, with the head lifted high).

Arm balances follow. Vasisthasana 1 and 2 from Adho Mukha Svanasana. A similar hip and groin opening is required here as in the first standing poses we did.

Now go to Dvi Hasta Bhujasana, Bhujapidasana, and Tittibasana starting from Uttanasana. Pay attention to the different actions in these three poses- legs forward, feet and buttocks coming towards each other, and a full leg extension with perineum parallel to the floor respectively. Explore where best to position your hands and where the lever point is to come into the pose.

There is a point of balance in each of these asanas.

Now sit in Dandasana to move to Eka Hasta Bhujasana, and then Asta Vakrasana. Follow with Malasana, with hands to the floor, to prepare for full Bakasana, done twice. Create the lift and spreading at the back of the thighs and the dome shape of the upper back and concavity in the sternum region to find full freedom in this pose.

After the hand balancings, we may feel a little tightness around the diaphragm. To release that area, go to Chatushpadasana and then into one full Urdhva Dhanurasana to get the opening from the full backbend.

Adho Mukha Svanasana to bring us back to neutrality, to evenness in body and breath.

The end of the sequence includes Sarvangasana, Halasana, and a few variations, and then finally Janu Sirsasana and Paschimottonasana with forehead support.
Savasana for a good 7 minutes to allow for proper relaxation everywhere, using a belt over the eyes to facilitate quietness.

View sequence

Supta Virasana
Reclining Hero Pose
Lay on your back with your legs bent, your toes pointing backward.
Uttanasana
Standing Forward Bend
Starting in Tadasana, exhale and reach down towards your feet. Let your spine release downwards. You can bend your knees or place your hands on blocks if you lack the necessary flexibility.
Adho Mukha Svanasana
Downward-Facing Dog Pose
Press evenly into your hands and feet. The main aim is to elongate the back of your body and lift your hips up as high off the ground as possible without losing the stable foundation created by your hands and feet. If you lack the hamstring flexibility, bend your knees a little.
Virasana Forward into Adho Mukha Svanasana
Forward Facing Hero Pose into Downward Facing Dog Pose
Back and forward transition from Virasana Forward to Adho Mukha Svanasana. Change poses on the breath, attempt to go deeper into each pose with every repetition.
Tadasana
Mountain Pose
Stand up tall and straight, place your feet close together, with your heels and big toes touching. Imagine as if you are standing with your back against the wall. Extend your whole body from the heels up through the crown of your head.
Adho Mukha Vrksasana
Full Arm Balance (Handstand)
Open your hands into the floor and strengthen your arms as you lift your body up, one leg at a time, into an inverted balance. Use the wall for support if necessary. If pushing yourself up proves to be too difficult, you can walk your feet up the wall.
Uttanasana
Standing Forward Bend
Starting in Tadasana, exhale and reach down towards your feet. Let your spine release downwards. You can bend your knees or place your hands on blocks if you lack the necessary flexibility.
Adho Mukha Vrksasana
Full Arm Balance (Handstand)
Open your hands into the floor and strengthen your arms as you lift your body up, one leg at a time, into an inverted balance. Use the wall for support if necessary. If pushing yourself up proves to be too difficult, you can walk your feet up the wall.
Uttanasana
Standing Forward Bend
Starting in Tadasana, exhale and reach down towards your feet. Let your spine release downwards. You can bend your knees or place your hands on blocks if you lack the necessary flexibility.
Pincha Mayurasana
Feathered Peacock Pose
Spread your weight evenly across your forearms, activate your shoulders, and lengthen your spine as you lift yourself into this inverted balance. Use wall support if needed. You can also wrap a belt around your arms to keep them steady.
Virasana Forward
Downward-Facing Hero Pose
Join your feet together under your buttocks and keep your knees far enough apart for your ribs to fit in between your legs as you fold forward. You can rest your forehead on the floor or on a block.
Hip focus and arm balances for experienced students
Tree Pose
Straighten your right leg and get rooted through your foot as you bend your left knee out to the side. Lift your arms up and draw your spine upward as you balance. Change sides.
Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana 1
Extended Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose 1
Grab your foot by the toe and straighten your leg, maintaining your Tadasana line. Lengthen through the crown of your head and keep your body from tipping over. Use wall support if you lack the balance. You can also use a belt if you lack hamstring flexibility.
Ardha Chandrasana
Half Moon Pose
Get rooted through your left foot, point your toes and kneecap forward. Then, place your left hand on the floor or a block in front of you as you stretch your other right leg back in line with your straight back. You can use the wall for support if you lack the balance. If possible, lift your right arm up.
Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana 1
Extended Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose 2
Grab your foot by the toe and straighten your leg, maintaining your Tadasana line. Lengthen through the crown of your head and keep your body from tipping over. Once balanced, open your leg out to the side. You can also use a belt if you lack hamstring flexibility.
Garudasana
Eagle Pose
Sit your hips back into Utkatasana (Chair Pose). Cross one leg over the other and balance. Then, cross your arms at the elbows so that both your pinkies are pointing forwards. Then try to lift your hands to capacity while keeping your shoulders level and chest open.
Salamba Sirsasana Wall Support
Headstand 1
Activate your shoulders and upper back muscles as you lift your body up into inverted balance. Use the wall for support if necessary.
Parsva Sirsasana
Side Headstand
As you hold your balance in Sirsasana, tilt your feet to the side. Use your core to twist to capacity.
Parsvaikapada Sirsasana
One-Legged Headstand Pose
Start in Sirsasana and bring one leg down to the floor. The other leg stays lifted and steady.
Virasana Forward
Downward-Facing Hero Pose
Join your feet together under your buttocks and keep your knees far enough apart for your ribs to fit in between your legs as you fold forward. You can rest your forehead on the floor or on a block.
Adho Mukha Svanasana
Downward-Facing Dog Pose
Press evenly into your hands and feet. The main aim is to elongate the back of your body and lift your hips up as high off the ground as possible without losing the stable foundation created by your hands and feet. If you lack the hamstring flexibility, bend your knees a little.
Vasisthasana 1
Side Plank Pose I
Start in Plank Pose or Adho Mukha Svanasana. Shift your weight onto one side, rotate onto the outside of your supporting foot, and tilt your body sideways to form a diagonal line. Lengthen through the crown of your head and raise your arm up if possible.
Adho Mukha Svanasana
Downward-Facing Dog Pose
Press evenly into your hands and feet. The main aim is to elongate the back of your body and lift your hips up as high off the ground as possible without losing the stable foundation created by your hands and feet. If you lack the hamstring flexibility, bend your knees a little.
Hip focus and arm balances for experienced students
Side Plank Pose II
Start in Plank Pose or Adho Mukha Svanasana. Keep your right hand strongly rooted and rotate onto the outside of your right foot as you shift your body into a diagonal line. Lengthen through the crown of your head and activate your core as you raise your left leg and reach your left hand to meet it. Use a belt if necessary.
Virasana Forward
Downward-Facing Hero Pose
Join your feet together under your buttocks and keep your knees far enough apart for your ribs to fit in between your legs as you fold forward. You can rest your forehead on the floor or on a block.
Hip focus and arm balances for experienced students
Insect Pose
Place your feet a little more than hip-width apart. Bend forwards, tuck your shoulders under your knees, plant your hands on the floor and sit your buttocks down. Straighten your arms and lift yourself up into balance.
Uttanasana
Standing Forward Bend
Starting in Tadasana, exhale and reach down towards your feet. Let your spine release downwards. You can bend your knees or place your hands on blocks if you lack the necessary flexibility.
Hip focus and arm balances for experienced students
Shoulder-Pressing Pose
Start in Uttanasana. Fold forward, bend your knees and plant your hands behind your feet. Tuck your shoulders behind your legs and bring your feet together, interlocking them in the middle, right under your chest. Straighten your arms and balance.
Hip focus and arm balances for experienced students
Firefly Pose
Plant your hands in between your thighs and raise yourself up. Your legs extend forward, parallel to the floor.
Dandasana
Staff Pose
Point your sit-bones down and extend your spine upwards through the crown of your head. Use support under your buttocks or bend knees if needed to get your back straight.
Eka Hasta Bhujasana
Elephant Trunk Pose
Start in Dandasana. Keep your left leg straight as you bend your right knee and bring it over your shoulder from behind. Plant your hands on the floor and lift your legs up off the floor. Repeat on both sides.
Hip focus and arm balances for experienced students
Eight-Angle Pose
Bend your knee placing your foot by your buttock and plant your hand on the inside of the foot. With your hands planted firmly by your hips, lift your legs and take them forward to meet each other, then interlock them. Incorporate a bend in your elbows and, as you inhale, push yourself up into balance. Straighten your legs outward.
Dandasana
Staff Pose
Point your sit-bones down and extend your spine upwards through the crown of your head. Use support under your buttocks or bend knees if needed to get your back straight.
Hip focus and arm balances for experienced students
Crow Pose
Start by squatting with your feet wide apart. Plant your hands on the inside of your feet, so that you can hook your elbows beneath your knees. Shift your weight forward and lift your feet up.
Uttanasana
Standing Forward Bend
Starting in Tadasana, exhale and reach down towards your feet. Let your spine release downwards. You can bend your knees or place your hands on blocks if you lack the necessary flexibility.
Chatushpadasana
Four-Footed Pose
Lie down with your knees bent so that your feet are close to your buttocks. Grab onto your ankles and lift your hips up above the ground. Open your chest up and breathe.
Urdhva Dhanurasana
Wheel Pose
Root yourself through your feet and hands as you lift your body up off the floor. You can walk your hands and feet towards each other to capacity.
Virasana Forward
Downward-Facing Hero Pose
Join your feet together under your buttocks and keep your knees far enough apart for your ribs to fit in between your legs as you fold forward. You can rest your forehead on the floor or on a block.
Adho Mukha Svanasana
Downward-Facing Dog Pose
Press evenly into your hands and feet. The main aim is to elongate the back of your body and lift your hips up as high off the ground as possible without losing the stable foundation created by your hands and feet. If you lack the hamstring flexibility, bend your knees a little.
Supta Padangusthasana I
Reclining Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose
Press your back body into the floor, point the kneecap and toes of your supine leg toward the ceiling, as you extend the other leg up over your hip. Use a belt if needed.
Supta Padangusthasana II
Reclining Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose
Lie down on your back. Point kneecap and toes on your left leg upward, as you stretch your right leg out to the side. Use a belt if necessary. Change sides.
Sarvangasana
Shoulderstand
Activate your arms and shoulders as you lift your body up perpendicular to the floor. Use blankets or bolsters to support your shoulders. Make sure the back of your neck stays relaxed and maintains its natural curve.
Halasana
Plough Pose
Use support under your shoulders. Keeping your shoulders open, lift your hips up high above your head, dropping your feet down behind you. Place your hands on your back to help keep it from rounding.
Ekapada Sarvangasana
One-Legged Shoulderstand Pose
Activate your shoulders and lift your body up into a straight line. Place your hands on your back to help you keep your balance. Keeping your body straight and your hips aligned, bring one foot down behind your head.
Janu Sirsasana
Head-to-Knee Forward Bend
Bend your knee out to the side and keep your sit-bones pointing downward as you stretch out over your extended leg. Use a belt if necessary.
Paschimottanasana
Seated Forward Bend
Make sure the backs of your legs are pressed firmly to the ground as you bend over to reach your feet. Release the spine. Use a belt if necessary.
Savasana
Corpse Pose
Lie down on the floor. Spread your arms and legs slightly at your side. Relax and concentrate on your breath.