Handstand Pose

Adho Mukha Vrkasana


Handstand pose is a challenging inversion with many benefits:

  • Decompresses the spine
  • Strengthens the shoulders, arms, and wrists
  • Therapeatuic for headaches, as well as mild depression
  • Improves sense of balance
  • Pose

  • Cautions

  • Modifications

  • Back, shoulder, or neck injury
  • Carpel Tunnel Syndrome
  • High blood pressure
  • Glaucoma
  • Pregnancy
  • This is an advanced inversion and should be attempted with caution.
  • Wrap a strap around your upper arm bones to remind you to keep your arms strong.
  • You can stay at Step 2 while you work on your strength until you feel ready to kick up.
  • Images
  • Step-by-step

Adho Mukha Vrkasana (ah-doh moo-kah vriks-SHAHS-anna)
Adho Mukha: Downward facing
Vrksa: Tree
Although this pose is traditionally practiced in the center of the room, the fear of falling can make it impossibly challenging for those new to this pose. As an alternative, we offer steps to learn this pose using an open wall space. You may also need a spotter for this pose.

  1. Place your yoga mat directly up against a wall, with the short side of your mat parallel to the wall. Come into Downward Facing Dog pose with your hands about 6 inches away from the wall. Walk your feet slightly inwards. Your feet should be close enough so that you are able to bring your shoulders directly over your wrists at this point.
  2. Look down at your hands. Keep your gaze locked at the place in between your palms throughout the entire pose. Raise one leg up in the air and flex your foot. Push that heel strongly towards the ceiling. Bend the opposite knee.
  3. Keeping your top leg strong, kick with your bottom leg and try to swing your top leg upwards the wall. Remember to keep your top leg as straight as possible. You may be able to kick up right away, or you may need to practice this several times (or even for several weeks!) until you are open and strong enough to kick up to meet the wall.
  4. Once your top leg meets the wall, bring your bottom leg up to meet it. Push your hands down and extend your heels up. Strongly engage your abdominals.
  5. Hold the handstand for as long as you can, then slowly let one foot come down to the ground at a time. Take child’s pose as a counter pose. Next time you practice this pose, make sure you use the other leg as your lead leg, in order to create balance in your body.
  6. Once you are comfortable using the wall in handstand, you can attempt it in the middle of the room. Make sure you have an open space to practice in where you won’t hit anything or get injured. You may need a spotter to help catch you once you kick up.
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