Hayden Kee MAN ON THE MAT
Koundinyasana B with Extended Arm and Mushti Mudra
Arm balances develop concentration, strength, and awareness of the entire body. If you have a solid foundation in the basic and intermediate arm balances (crow, side crow, ashtavakrasana, and koundinyasana A and B), take your arm balances to the next level by extending an arm. Practiced correctly, this pose builds strength and stability in the shoulder, builds confidence, and adds an element of daring to your practice.
- The shoulder and elbow of the extended arm must be stable. Draw the shoulder snuggly into its socket. Build strength by doing chaturanga push-ups with one arm extended perpendicular to the body or forward.
- You’ll be tempted to pull with your extended arm. However, the balance and integrity of the pose comes from pushing down and away through the fingers of the extended arm even as the shoulder and upper arm pull back towards the torso.
- Avoid elbow hyperextension.
- Be aware of hand placement before lifting into the pose. The hand of the extended arm should be planted straight out to the side and about a foot forward (the length of your upper arm) from the weight-bearing arm. This allows for proper alignment once you lean forward and lift into the pose. You can also experiment with advancing the extended arm further forward, or further overhead (as pictured here).
- Begin in a low lunge or lizard pose. Find your hand placement. Take the weight into your arms and find balance as you lift your legs. Once you have found equilibrium, reach out through your two legs and the extended arm.
- You may want to work up to the fully extended arm by placing the hands a little further apart every day.
- Try different orientations of the hand of the weight-bearing arm. You may find this pose easier with it facing out to the side or to the back of the mat. (In this version, I am balancing on my fist with the palm facing the front of the mat. The fist is for strength and grounding, while the fingertips of the extended arm bring a feeling of levity and poise.)
- Elevating onto the fingertips of the extended arm may look like an additional challenge. In fact, it allows you to activate through the entire arm and find your balance.
If you already have a strong Koundinyasana B in your practice, the biggest challenge with this variation will be finding the concentration and coordination required for the extended arm. As you enter the balance, focus on a field of energy extending across your upper body between your two hands on the floor. Once you have found stability there, bring awareness to the legs and reach out through your feet.
Studio: Our Yoga Space, Kelowna, Canada @ouryogaspace