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August 31, 2022 3 min read

Adhomukhavrikshasana, more commonly known simply as handstand, is an advanced yoga asana. The Sanskrit name Adhomukhavrikshasana comes from adho, meaning "downward," mukha, meaning "face," vriksha, meaning "tree," and asana, meaning "pose." As the name suggests, in this asana the practitioner's body forms an upside-down V shape, with the hands planted firmly on the ground and the weight resting on the hands. Handstand requires a great deal of strength and flexibility, and it is not recommended for beginners. However, with regular practice, almost anyone can learn to do this challenging asana. For those who are up for the challenge, handstand can be a fun and rewarding pose to add to your yoga practice.


One of the most important things to keep in mind when preparing for a handstand is the arms and upper back. It's important to strengthen the muscles in your arms and shoulders, as well as the muscles in your upper back. Working on this will help you develop the strength and control you need to execute a successful handstand. Additionally, it's important to focus on taking weight on the palms and strengthening the wrists. This will help you create a strong base of support when you're upside down. 


1. Hold a block between the palms by pressing the palms on the sides without actually gripping them. Lift your arms and extend them straight in front of you. Try and keep the elbows engaged. Keep the shoulders down and broaden the upper back as you do this action. Hold for 6-8 breaths and release. Repeat 3 times. 

2. Holding the block between the palms by pressing the palms on the sides, lift your arms and extend them over your head. Keep the shoulders down and extend from the side body to the shoulders, upper arms, elbow, forearms and palms. Hold for 6-8 breaths and release. Repeat 3 times.

3. Go over the above actions with a yoga belt on your forearm and the block between the palms as you try to break the yoga belt. Extend the arms from in front of you and lift them up towards the ceiling without bending at the elbow. Repeat 3 times.

4. Adhomukhaswanasan or downward dog action with forearms on mat - Get down on your knees and place the forearms on the mat shoulder width apart with fingers well spread. Lift the knees up to straighten the legs by pushing the thighs back and keeping the feet together. Keep the head lifted up and abdomen quiet. Lift the shoulders while pressing the forearms and engaging the upper back. Hold for 6-8 breaths and release. Repeat 3 times. 

5. Vashishtasan or side plank - Begin in plank pose. Shift your weight to your right hand and raise your left hand off the floor and up toward the ceiling. At the same time, move onto the outer edge of your right foot. Stack your left hip directly over your right. take 6-8 breaths in this position and then return your left hand and foot to the floor to come back to a plank. Repeat the pose on both sides twice.

6 and 7. Start in high plank position with the arms and legs straight. Feet are hip-distance apart and shoulders are over your wrists. Keep your legs firm and the core is engaged. Shift your weight forward, moving the shoulders in front of the wrists and feet up on tip-toes as you lower to Chaturangadandasan. Bend your elbows straight back, hugging them into the side of your body as you go down. Hold this posture for 4-5 breaths and lift back to high plank. Try both foot positions by moving your body laterally forward while keeping the arms strong.

Sandhya is wearing Baka leggings in burgundy and Bharni bra top in beetroot.

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