Handstand is just like standing, but…

Have you ever wondered why some of your yoga teachers focus so much on tadasana?  Also known as mountain pose or just standing? (Besides the many benefits like improved posture, strengthened thighs, knees, and ankles, firmed abdomens and backsides, reduced flat feet, and relief for sciatica.) You’re not alone! Instead of wishing they would hurry up and get on with sun salutations, Warrior II and arm balances, start to listen to their instructions. They’re giving you valuable information about your foundation when they have you standing at the front of your mat. They’re preparing you for pretty much every standing pose you’re going to do the rest of the class, as well as a super fun one most of us get nervous to try: adho mukha vrksasana, also known as handstand to some or Really Scary Pose to others.

Adho Mukha Vrksasana

If you’re in alignment while standing firmly on your own two feet, handstand isn’t too much different. Actually, the only difference is your arms extended over your head and, oh yeah, you’re standing on your hands! If you’ve ever zoned out while teachers offered helpful tips for standing still, we have a step-by-step tutorial for tadasana to help you easily transition to adho mukh vrksasana.

Step 1: Stand with your big toes touching, feet parallel. Lift all 10 toes slightly and lightly place them back on your mat.  Balance your weight equally on all four sides of your feet. Slightly lift the inner and outer arches of your feet.

Step 2: Lift up and out of your ankle joint, firming your calves in to your shins and pushing your shins in to your calves equally. Firm the front of your thigh muscles and lift the knee caps without hardening your lower belly. Turn your inner upper thighs slightly inward. Lengthen your tailbone toward the floor. Imagine a line of energy coming from your inner arches all the way up along your inner thighs, through the core of your torso and up to the crown of your head.

Step 3: Press your shoulder blades in and down your back, spreading your chest. Imagine a string is tied between your front lower ribs and lift your chest toward the sky. Keeping your collarbone wide and shoulders in place, reach your arms with energy to the sky so your biceps are in line with your ears, palms facing each other, coming into urdhva hastasana. Rotate the pinky side of your arms toward the front of the room and the thumb side to the back of the room.

Step 4: Balance the top of your head directly over your pelvis, keeping your chin parallel with the floor. Soften your eyes and enjoy the benefits. Begin to envision yourself as calm as you are now and maintaining this position upside down! Hold for at least 1-3 minutes maintaining your breath.

Did you realize simply standing could be so challenging? Did you find it helped you with handstand? Fill us in!

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