Digital Asana Project

Digital Asana Project: Uttanasana into Handstand

This is a fun transition to work into the Sun Salutations, or pretty much anywhere in the flow really. I absolutely love going upside-down, and will incorporate just about anything that will get me upside-down into my asana practice. The transition from Uttanasana (Folding Forward Bend) into Adho Mukha Vrksasana (Handstand) is a particularly fun way of injecting some intensity into the practice. It involves quite a bit of flexibility — you have to be able to palm the floor in Uttanasana — as well as a considerable amount of core strength. And, of course, one needs to be able to do a Handstand freely in the middle of the room as well. If any of these things are an issue, it is also possible to practice this transition at the wall.

In this video, I start in Uttanasana and spend a few moments setting my hands just right on the floor. Then, I press the hands firmly into the ground and slowly shift the weight forward into my hands and out of my feet. This requires me to really engage my upper body, almost in an exaggerated fashion. I also have to take my hips over my shoulders and wrists, otherwise, there is no way that I’m going to get into a Handstand. Now, to lift the legs up, I engage my core and, with a little bit of an angry “oomph”, take my legs out from under me. This move involves a full transfer of the weight in to the hands. Also, to counterbalance the weight of the legs behind me, my overall weight is actually shifted slightly ahead of my hands. This is the only way I know how to stay balanced while lifting the legs up. Once the legs start moving, I make a number of subtle adjustments to the positioning of my hips to compensate for the changing distribution of my weight. Finally, by the time I land the legs above me in full Handstand, my hips, arms, shoulders, and wrists are all in line. As with most of these transitions, the subtle adjustments along the way are key. This is a very dynamic transition, and the real work is in the minute adjustments, not in the brute force.

Disclaimer: I am not a certified yoga instructor, and the ideas and opinions expressed here are not intended to be formal instruction on yoga poses. If you plan to start up a yoga practice, or if you have one and plan to do any of the yoga poses described in this blog, please seek out an experienced, living, breathing yoga teacher to guide you with hands-on instruction.


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