Help With Ballerina Pose Even If You Have Dinosaur Arms

So here’s a recent picture of me stretching my shoulders.


And here’s a picture of me FINALLY doing a ballerina after years of frustration.



The difference was a teacher who flat out admitted “this pose is not for everybody,” and that she struggled with it for years before getting it because of her specific build. How encouraging is it for pole goddesses to say stuff like that? “Not every pose is going to be right for your body, and that’s okay”??? I love it. <3<3<3 Kelly!!!!

So anyway, even if you DO have shoulder flexibility, chances are you’re going to be in that forward fold just reaching fruitlessly for pole and finding air. This doesn’t look super cute but it’s also scary and extremely frustrating when you’re already in an uncomfortable position and high off the ground. So these are Kelly’s tips for getting yourself a sweet, sweet handful of pole on the first try and  locking into the pose comfortably (and safely). Worked for me, and again–I have no shoulder flexibility. So I’m fairly confident that this will be helpful to most people!!

So to get started, take a climb or two, release your arms, and wrap your body around the pole in the same direction as your front leg. If you’re climbing with your left leg in front, you’ll be leaning towards your left, twisting over your left shoulder, and grabbing the pole overhead with your left arm. Now you’re ready to tweak a little and make this easier.

Lean ALL the way over the pole

A halfway bend won’t do you any favors. Commit to touching your toes in that forward fold before attempting anything else.

Twist your torso

This is a huge assist toward getting that grab and doesn’t require crazy shoulder flexiness.

Turn your body at the waist and look back towards the pole as you reach down between your knees to grab with your outside hand and get ready to grab with your inside hand. Which reminds me…

Make room for your lower handballerina prep

Don’t be afraid to loosen your knees a bit on the pole to make room to grab with your lower hand. Kelly says this also gives you a little more room to twist and reach behind you. As you can see from this janky pic taken right before or right after the money shot (I’m not sure which), my knees are a bit open and I’m relying more on my ankles and shins for grip. According to Kelly, this is totally okay and you shouldn’t be afraid to do it (despite your instincts telling you to grab on for dear life with everything you’ve got).

Make T shape with your outside arm before reaching back to grab the pole

I don’t know why this helps but it does. If you don’t believe me, try doing the T shape first and then grabbing the pole vs. doing a backstroke motion and grabbing. Even if you have super flexible shoulders, the first should be a lot easier than the latter. And done slowly, it can look just as lovely and dramatic.

Once you’ve made contact, rotate your shoulder back and slide your hand up the pole to lock in

You’ll know you’re doing the rotation right if you’re exposing MORE armpit, not less, and you’ve made contact with your lat on the pole. Solid! Now you’re in a shoulder-safe position to let go.

I know this pose comes super easy for some people, and for others its a total nemesis move. Have you tried it? What do you think? Even if you can get into the pose it’s a little rough on ya, right? (Looking at my underarm bruise as I type this, haha).

Good luck and please share any tips you have for getting in (and out) of this pose safely and cute-ly.

And have no shame in your dinosaur arms. It’s a lifestyle!

TRex Arms

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