Handstand or Adho Mukha Vrksasana changes our relationship to gravity, helping us find a new sense of lightness. Plus, it's playful nature can help us pacify pitta, while it's energy inducing qualities can help balance kapha. Handstand can be performed at a wall or in the center of the room. For this version, we are introducing handstand at a wall. Practicing handstand at a wall can take the intensity of fear out of the practice, allowing us to become a little lighter and have more fun. Once you are comfortable at a wall, follow these same steps in the center of the room.
1. Begin with your fingertips an inch or two away from a wall. Hands are shoulder-width apart.
2. Hug the shoulder blades onto the back and pull the tips of the shoulder blades down. Rotate your upper arms outward to keep the shoulder blades in place. Hug your arm bones toward each other.
3. Spread your fingers wide, both wrist creases face forward. Press firmly into the pads of the fingers and into the mound between the index finger and thumb.
4. Bend one knee and keep the other leg active by extending through the heel. Take a few practice hops to practice pressing into the hands.
5. Now, take your right leg high, and kick your left leg off the ground. Engage the core muscles, shrug the shoulders toward the ears.
6. Exhale deeply each time you hop.
7. If you feel comfortable with these small jumps, you can jump with enough force for both legs to come up the wall.
8. With both legs at the wall, pull the ribs in toward the back body. Squeeze the outer legs together and roll the thighs in.
9. To come out of the pose, bring one leg down, then the other. Try to refrain from sinking in the shoulders.
10. Practice on the other side.
To modify: Practice L-dogs at the wall (see photo below).
To go deeper:
Change the gaze for a challenge. Look forward to the floor. Or take your handstand practice to the center of the room.
Do not perform this pose if you have a back, shoulder, or neck injury. Practitioners with heart conditions or high blood pressure should also refrain from handstand.