Dag Hammarskjold wrote, “Life only demands the strength you possess. Only one feat is possible – not to have run away.” It's easy to get rattled by arm balances. "Falling flat on your face" is a metaphor for failure, and with these poses it's an all-too-literal description of what can happen. So like most people, you approach arm balances with anxiety, because your arms may not be strong enough to get you airborne and you might wind up with bruises on your body—and ego. In order to keep from crashing, you tap into some hard-edged determination: Your knuckles turn white, your face turns red, and you push and push. You try to use as much Control as you can to keep from falling.
However, there is a paradox that exists with Control. Judith Lasater says, “The more we try to control our world, the less control we have. The more we are willing to let go of control and simply stay present with what is, the more control we have.”
Arm Balances really offer us a metaphor for how to live our lives in balance. What often gets over-looked is that arm balances require you to relax deeply and release many of your joints and muscles. You need a lot of suppleness in your groins, hamstrings, hips, knees, and torso just to get into the shape of most of these poses. In reality, the practice of yoga has more to do with letting go of control much more than gaining it. Perhaps the most important thing is to cultivate a playful, curious, and non striving attitude. Notice if you become overly intense in your desire to perform the poses or if you're tempted to quit because they seem too challenging.
Realize that in life, the only real control you have is the choice of our thoughts, our words, and our actions or deeds. To have Control of our outer environment is really a great big Illusion.