The focus of this blog is to bring you a weekly yoga practice that is created with a specific intention or theme. Use these intentions as a way to build a devoted yoga practice as well as add direction and focus in your healthy way of living.
Friday, September 9, 2011
Yes! You Can!
An amazing and dynamic pose to add to your yoga practice is Handstand! Yes...Handstand! Don't think you can do it? Afraid that you might fall? These are common statements when a pose like Handstand is before them. This posture can be a great way to face your fears and accomplish something you thought to be impossible.
In Sanskrit, the word for Handstand is Adho Mukha Vrksasana. This translates to Downward Facing Tree. As you attempt this pose, you might want to create the image of an upside down tree in your mind to help guide yourself into the posture. A tree that is right side up has its roots planted securely into the earth. The strong trunk of the tree is sturdy enough to withstand many challenges (i.e. wind, rain, and even the occasional squirrel or woodpecker!) The branches of the tree, although strong, are flexible, as they rise high into the sky. The only direction a tree wants to move is upward. We can take this image of the tree, turn it upside down, and still have the same structure.
While in Handstand, the hands become the roots, so you'll want to create a strong foundation with straight arms while in the pose. The torso resembles the trunk of the tree. While engaging a strong core, your body will remain firm and sturdy like the tree trunk. The legs, feet, and toes, will reach high toward the ceiling acting as branches ever wanting to move upward.
To begin the pose, start in Downward Facing Dog near a wall. (Use the wall to help hold your balance once you are in the pose.) Perhaps it is here that you set your intention. Maybe you're wanting to move forward with something that feels completely new or foreign to you and you're a little afraid of the unknown. You're not sure how things are going to turn out. Sometimes we have to act with a little blind faith. Trust that everything is going to be okay. Know that you have a secure foundation, that you are a strong individual, and you are flexible when the unexpected twists and turns come your way. The ultimate outcome is that you have done your very best to move upward.
While in Downward Facing Dog, keep one foot on the floor while lifting the other. The foot on the ground will be used as your "launching pad" to help lift yourself up into the air with a kick. The other leg will be used as a "rudder" to help guide your body upward into an extended structure from top to bottom. The rudder will also stop you from falling over because it will land on the wall. When you're ready, using a powerful exhale, kick yourself up into the posture. You may want to start with a few light hops just to get the feeling of lifting up into the air and balancing on your hands. When you have gained trust in your body, perform a stronger kick to bring yourself all the way to the wall.
Once you have both feet against the wall, root down in the floor with your hands so your arms are straight. (You may also want to hug the arms toward each other to feel even stronger in this Handstand position.) Engage your core so that your torso is also extended. Finally, since your heels may be against the wall, keep your feet flexed to feel the lengthening sensation of your legs along the wall toward the ceiling. Hold the pose for at least 10 breaths. Complete the pose by bringing one leg down, then the other, and come to Child's Pose. Stay here for as along as you need to re-orient the body, mind, and breath. Remind yourself that you ARE able to accomplish feats that may seem daunting to you at first. But with patience and practice, you WILL reach your goals.