March - April Pose of the Month: Adho Mukha Vrksasana
March 31, 2014
Adho Mukha Vrksasana (Handstand)
It is amazing how much emotion and fear comes with going upside down. It is a challenge to take a deep breath and go somewhere you haven't been, hoping it will stick. A tremendous amount of trust and connection are needed to come into an inversion - especially one that requires you to leave the safety of the floor and balance solely on your hands in one kick! We prepare for this pose in every tadasana (mountain pose) we do. We use our knowledge of the alignment required to properly stand upright in order to balance upside down.
Working on Down Dog with the proper opening of the shoulders is the first step. Finding open and healthy shoulder alignment will give you the strength and foundation required to hold your weight in handstand. Next, determine which leg is the dominate leg. This will be the one to kick up with. Practice swinging this leg up into the air allowing the thigh to lift the hip with the movement of the swinging leg. This leg needs to stay straight for this to happen. It also helps to point the foot as this will allow for the extension needed to eventually stop at the top without hitting the wall. It is important to keep your core engaged and your drishti, or gaze, towards the hands. Work to swing with the leg and get the hips up over their shoulders, the whole time keeping the upper arm bones rotated externally and triceps towards the chin. Once this happens you can begin to follow with the second leg, performing a closing scissor-like action at the top. After you are upside down, you can begin to learn to balance. Shift your weight from your fingertips to palms and play with finding your blissful center. Patience, perseverance and non judgement are key to eventually achieving this challenging inversion.