How to Do Handstand Pose in Yoga (Guide to Adho Mukha Vrksasana)

Handstand pose is a goal pose for so many yogis, and for a good reason! It takes daily practice and a lot of focus to practice a perfect handstand – once you’ve achieved it, you’ll have a huge sense of accomplishment!

Although this might feel like the final yoga pose you ever need to learn, you’ll soon discover that one-armed handstands are a thing too…

“Handstand pose is something that anybody, without injury, can achieve,” says Yoga Answered contributor Keira Shepherd. “The only thing you need to remember is that this asana takes practice, determination, and a belief in yourself.”

Handstand Pose Quick Look

Sanskrit Name: Adho Mukha Vrksasana
Pose Type: Balancing Yoga Poses, Inversion Yoga Poses, Strengthening Yoga Poses
Difficulty Level: Advanced pose
Targets: Arms, shoulders, core, middle back
Benefits: This pose lengthens the spine and stimulates cardiovascular activity while strengthening the entire body. It also requires that you bring attention to your breath and can help to reduce stress.
Preparatory Poses: Downward facing dog pose, standing splits, bunny hops

How to Do Handstand Pose Step-By-Step

  1. Start in downward-facing dog pose with your palms shoulder-width apart.
  2. Gaze between your palms and grip the mat with all 5 fingertips.
  3. From here, lift one leg up and then inhale to hop up with the second leg to create an L shape with your legs.
  4. Engage your core and lift your second leg so that both of your feet are pointing towards the sky.
  5. Push into the hands and engage the core to reduce strain in the back and protect the spine and shoulders.
  6. Bring one leg down at a time to release the pose.

Beginner’s Tip

Just because you’re a beginner, that doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve the benefits of handstand pose from a slightly more accessible asana.

Stand facing a wall with a chair behind you and bring your hands to the ground. From here, bring both of your feet to the chair and experiment with pushing into your toes to lift your hips over your shoulders.

Having the wall behind you will provide a safety net so that you can play with handstand pose without the fear of falling!

Contraindications

  • Avoid this pose towards the end of pregnancy as it can make it difficult to breathe.
  • Avoid if you suffer from heart conditions or high blood pressure.
  • Avoid this pose if you have any wrist, shoulder, or back injuries or pain.

Variation

Practice this pose at the wall, to begin with, so that you can focus on building strength in the core to protect your spine.

Stand with your back to the wall and take a large step forward – the distance should be about the same length as one of your legs.

Bring your hands to the floor directly under your shoulder and gently walk your feet up the wall until your legs and torso are at a 90-degree angle. From here, you can experiment with lifting one leg at a time until you’re ready to lift both!

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