By Elaine Kelly
If there is one yoga pose I am determined to achieve it’s a free style hand stand.
I’ve been practicing every day for almost two years and while I am seeing improvements, that graceful lifting of the legs over the head and hovering till the toes meet in the air, still feels years away. Ok I started this gig late in life only really committing to a regular practice at the age of 45 but I refuse to give up. “Practice, practice and all is coming.” Pattabis Jois famously said. You do need a good teacher as well.
So here is how I teach Adho Mukha Vrksasana (downward facing tree pose – that’s a whole other blog as to how it has this strange name) in my classes and some photos to help illustrate each step.
Strong Core and Arms
You need a strong core, shoulders, arms and wrists. I started doing calisthenic classes twice a week which has really helped. Try Gravity Dubai, first class is free! Then follow these steps starting with the first one and building up to the last one. Do it every day to start to notice a difference. And photograph yourself for that insta before and after photo that will be posted when you have mastered the pose.
- Warm up your wrists and core by holding plank pose for as long as you can. Start with 30 seconds and go on from there. Try lifting one foot off the ground for 5 breaths then switch sides.
- Do downward dog with your feet by a wall then walk your feet up the wall as your hands move in towards the wall. Get as close as you can and then walk back out again. Next level would be to remove one hand and touch your opposite shoulder, and then do the same on the other side. Do this 10 times then walk back out again.
- Sit with your back against a wall and legs extended out. Then place your hands where your feet were and bring your legs at a 90 degree angle to your body on the wall or as close as you can get. Then extend one leg up, so you are in half hand stand. Then do the same on the other side. Next play with moving the foot on the wall off for a second while the other leg is extended. This is full hand stand for a milli second!
- Turn and face the wall and with your hands a few inches from the wall and your head resting on a pillow, kick your legs up till your hips are over your shoulders. This take a lot of core strength so just do your best. Do 10 of these donkey kicks trying to find a balance point.
- Finally place a block or a cushion against the wall and with your head against it, kick one leg up and keep one bent while you try to find a balance place with your legs over your hips.
- Last step, come away from the wall and kick up with one straight and one bent leg – knowing how to fall is helpful, I am still working on this.