Lately my yoga practice has been zeroed in on yet another yogic version of stupid human tricks -- forearm balance. But the real trick for this stupid human living in an era of short attention spans has to do with my focus.

To perform a forearm balance, you railroad your forearms parallel on the ground and kick the rest of your body up over them, willing your torso and legs to hover overhead.

But as I move away from the perceived safety of the wall I used to kick into, the mental acrobatics needed for the pose are becoming clear.

Last summer, I took a class on inversions from Tiffany Cruikshank at Wanderlust Colorado. Tiffany's advice was brilliant. She gave us a series of steps for setting our shoulders before we launch upside down, and the stability it brought me made doing this pose in the middle of the room, without whacking a foot into the wall, feel like a real possibility.

In the past few weeks I've been going after forearm balance, I now see that obsessive concentration is required. There's a sweet spot to seek out every time you kick up: kick too hard and you'll flip clear over; kick too softly and you just hop lamely, gravity's minion. That sweet spot where you can balance upside down is hard to find. I found myself kicking stupidly, realizing it wasn't enough, then thinking ridiculously hard.

That's when I remembered Tiffany saying something about the beauty of the concentration required for these poses.


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So this is how I've been practicing forearm balance: Set shoulders, lay forearms on the floor. Switch on brain like I'm trying to understand what my college physics teacher was saying. Inhale. Kick, fall, kick again, kick again, realize I forgot to breathe, regain focus, kick again and hover for a second, watch out for cat passing through, ignore other background noise caused by humans, wonder if you'll remember later to answer that one email, remember you've forgotten to breathe again and mentally kick yourself for having the attention span of a gnat sipping espresso, crash, pause.

Concentrate, breathe. Kick, hover, hovering! Fall. Wonder at having nothing better to do than repeating this at least 10,000 more times. Concentrate, kick again and love it.

-- Jenn Fields, fields@coloradodaily.com