If you have been doing yoga for beginners and have moved to the intermediate level, then the chances are that you are looking to broaden your practice by doing advanced yoga. One such pose that is quite challenging and requires strength, flexibility and balance is the yoga handstand. Here's all you need to learn how to do the Adho Mukha Vrkasasana or the yoga handstand.

Overview of Yoga Handstand

The Adho Mukha Vrksasana meaning is derived from the Sanskrit word Adho meaning down, Mukha meaning face, and Vrksa, which means tree. The yoga handstand means facing in a downward direction. The body is inverted, and instead of standing on the legs, the arms and the wrists are used to balance the body.

The Adho Muka Vraksana or the Urdhva Mukha Vrksasana is one of the poses of the arm balance sequence which engages the body as well as the mind. It requires you to have great arm and shoulder strength and core muscle strength to lift the hips and the body up. However, the most important aspect of this practice is to overcome the fear of falling. So the beginner has to practice Ardha Adho Mukha Vrksasana with some sort of support and then move on to the Adho Mukha Vrksasana. This variation helps you to build confidence and also familiarise the body with stacking hips on shoulders and wrists.

Irrespective of the variations, it requires great focus and concentration to do this. Once you have the confidence to do this, and with practice, you can achieve a sense of calmness. The Adho Mukha Vrksasana is a basic pose, and many variations are derived from this. It is included in many yoga sequences and helps bring energy and vigour to the body.

Preparations for doing Yoga Handstand

  • This pose should be ideally practised in the mornings as it is recommended to be done 10 to 12 hours after taking food. It also helps in giving you enough strength and energy to do it properly. However, if you cannot do it in the morning, give a gap of 4 to 6 hours after food and then perform this asana.
  • Keep the bladder and bowel empty and clean before this asana.
  • Do proper warm up exercises before attempting them to prevent injuries.

Preparatory Poses for Yoga Handstand

To do this pose without any issues, one must warm-up and do specific yoga poses as part of the inversion. Some of the poses for handstand for beginners are the plank pose for the wrist and shoulder strength. Downward dog poses to prepare the body to get into a hop or a headstand. It also promotes body alignment. Crane pose helps to gain upper body strength. Eka Pada Adho Mukha Vrksasana to get over the fear of falling and build confidence. It is a headstand pose to learn how to engage the core in an inverted pose. Wheel pose helps to make the wrists stronger in case of falling over.

Steps for Doing Yoga Handstand

  1. To do this, start in Tadasana facing the wall. Now get on all fours onto the ground. Ensure that you are away from the wall by a span of one hand length. Place the palms shoulder-width apart and completely stretch out.
  2. Place the hands so that the middle finger is towards the wall and all the other fingers are stretched out completely.
  3. Move your legs back to about half of the mat. This should resemble the downward dog pose. The feet should be close to the hands and about 1 meter away from the hands. From this position, kick one leg up and then follow it up with the other after gaining momentum. Take the support of the wall to practice balance.
  4. Once you feel confident, move one foot away from the wall and then both. After you have practised this, try this out from the wall, probably at the centre of the room. While doing the yoga handstand, make sure to keep the legs and arms straight, toes dorsiflexed, and the neck and head relaxed.
  5. To release from this position, breathe slowly and deeply. Bring down the limbs one at a time and then back to the downward dog pose and back to Tadasana.

Adho Mukha Vrksasana Benefits

There are many benefits of the yoga handstand that can be done as online yoga classes, which are:

  • It boosts breathing capacity as it fully expands the chest.
  • It strengthens the hand, arms, wrist, and shoulder muscles.
  • It stretches the abdominal muscles and boosts digestion.
  • It improves the balance and coordination of the body.
  • It improves cardiovascular endurance and activates the baroreceptors in the carotid arteries.
  • It calms the mind and reduces stress levels. It also alleviates the symptoms of depression.
  • Provides relief from headaches and decreases blood pressure in the arteries.
  • Offers more flexibility and range of motion to the shoulder joints.

Contraindications of Yoga Handstand

Since it is an advanced pose, it comes with precautions, especially for beginners. Some of them are:

  • Pregnant women should not perform this as the inversion pose makes breathing hard as there is more weight in the uterus and abdomen.
  • People with high blood pressure or heart issues should speak to their doctor before doing it. Students with low blood pressure should do home workouts after being guided by yoga teachers as it can lead to dizziness.
  • People who have had injuries on the shoulder and wrist should wait until healed. They can do variations and check if the upper body can bear the weight. Also, those who have had internal organs surgery should seek the approval of their physician.
  • Those with back problems should not be practicing handstands.

Beginner’s Tips

Beginners may find it difficult to keep the elbows straight while performing the hand standing yoga. If that is happening, strap a buckle by looping around the arms above the elbows. Now straighten the arms and tighten the strap to fit properly against the arms. Then get into the pose and try to push the arms away.

Learning Handstand should be perfect, but doing it need not be perfect to get all the benefits. It is not a big deal if you can’t get away from the wall; you will still benefit from the inversion!

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July 8, 2022

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