Adho Mukha Vriksasana – Handstand How to do, Benefits, Ayurveda Details

Article by Dr Raghuram Y.S. MD (Ay) & Dr Manasa, B.A.M.S
Adho Mukha Vriksasana is an asana in which the performer of the asana assumes the pose of an inverted tree, he stands on his hands. Therefore this asana is called Adho Mukha Vrksasana i.e. Tilted Tree Pose or Handstand Pose. This asana resembles a strongly rooted tree when you have got into the pose to perfection. 

Adho Mukha Vriksasana
Meaning –
Adho = Downward, Tilted, Inverted
Mukha = Facing
Vriksha = Tree
Asana = Pose, Posture

Preparation

Preparation for Adho Mukha Vriksasana

  • Adho Mukha Vriksasana should be done on empty stomach. Therefore food should be taken 4-6 hours before starting to perform this asana. It is good if you can do it 10-12 hours after taking the food for optimum benefits. In this case it is best to carry out this asana in the morning. Having food well before the asana will enable proper digestion of food. This will in turn provide you energy and strength to perform this asana to perfection.
  • Keep your bowel and bladder clean and empty before doing this asana.
  • It is ideal to perform this asana early in the morning. If you are not able to do this asana in the morning due to unavoidable circumstances and prefixed schedules or other priorities, you can very well do it in the evening time.

Method

Method of doing Adho Mukha Vrksasana
Positioning for the Asana

  • Start by assuming Adho Mukha Svanasana – Downward Facing Dog Pose.
  • Place your hands about six inches away from the wall if you are a beginner and if you are practicing with support of a wall.

Performing and getting to the Adho Mukha Vriksasana

  • After positioning yourself, make sure that your shoulders are exactly placed over your wrists and slowly walk towards your hands.
  • Bend the knee of any one leg. Lift the foot of the other leg (whose knee you have not bent) off the floor. Once you feel comfortable, straighten the leg.
  • As the vertical leg which is off the floor takes the support of the wall, slowly lift the other leg also off the floor. Hold in the position until you are comfortable.
  • Ensure that your head is right in between your arms (upper limbs).
  • Now gradually try to take your feet off the wall.
  • Engage your legs in the air (lower limbs). You can help yourself by setting your vision on a fixed point on the floor for concentration.
  • Now you are standing upside down, totally balanced on your hands, the whole of your body weight transferred on to your hands, like a tilted tree. Now you are in the Handstand pose.

Release from the asana and coming back to the point of start

  • Hold yourself in this pose for a minute or so.
  • Breathe deeply and slowly.
  • Release yourself by bringing your lower limbs down, gradually, one at a time. Come back to Downward Facing Dog Pose.
Adho Mukha Vriksasana. Handstand. Asana. Yoga poses.

Tips for Beginners

It might be extremely difficult for the beginners to straighten your elbows while in the pose. One could use a strap to make some adjustments to get the elbows straight. Buckle the strap and loop it over your upper arms, just above the elbows. Stretch out your arms such that they are shoulder-width apart. Ensure that the strap fits on the outer arms as you do it. Then, use the strap to straighten the elbows. Also make sure to push your arms away from the strap while in the pose.

Variations

variation of Adho Mukha Vriksasana

  • It itself is an advanced pose. But when you lift your head to look at the floor, it becomes an advanced movement.
  • Ensure not to jam the skull base at the back of your neck.
  • When you gently lift your head, imagine that a softball is placed at the nape of your neck. This will ensure that the cervical curve is maintained.
  • When your head is lifted, your shoulder blades must be firmly pressed in your back.

Purva and Paschat Asanas

Preparatory Asanas
Before Adho Mukha Vriksasana, you can do one or more of the below mentioned Asanas –

Paschat Asanas (Post-Adho Mukha Vriksasana Poses)
After performing Adho Mukha Vrikshasana, one can perform –

  • Sirsasana
  • Pincha Mayurasana

Duration, health benefits

What time should be spent in the pose while doing Adho Mukha Vrikshasana?
One can stay in Adho Mukha Vrikshasana for a time period of 1-3 minutes at a stretch.

Health Benefits of Inverted Tree Pose:
Below mentioned are the benefits of Adho Mukha Vrksasana –

  • Adho Mukha Vriksasana makes your shoulders, wrists and arms strong.
  • The asana gives a good stretch to your belly (abdomen, tummy)
  • It enhances your sense of balance and enables you to get a better balance.
  • The asana enhances the blood circulation in the body.
  • The Handstand Pose calms your nerves and brain, keeps you relaxed.
  • This asana is ideal remedy for stress and mild depression.

Effect of Hand Stand- Ayurveda details

Effect on Doshas

Effect of Tilted Tree Pose on Doshas and Subtypes
It balances Prana Vayu and thus helps to calm your mind, senses, brain and nerves. This in turn will help you to get rid of your stress and depression. It also helps you to achieve unparalleled balance of your body. This can also be contributed to the ‘Sahasrara Chakra or Crown Chakra’ balancing effect of Adho Mukha Vruksasana.

By balancing Vyana Vayu, the Tilted Tree Pose helps in regulating and enhancing the blood circulation in the body.

Effect on Dhatus

Effect of Adho Mukha Vrukshasana on Dhatus –
Adho Mukha Vrksasana strengthens and stretches the mamsa dhatu (muscle tissue) of your upper limbs and belly (abdomen). It also strengthens the snayus (ligaments) and kandaras (tendons) around your shoulders, arms and wrists and provides the upper limbs good strength and stretch.

Adho Mukha Vriksasana, what it promises!
It is the arm balancing pose in which the doer carries the entire body weight on his hands. It is a difficult task to master this pose and takes regular practice to get it perfect.
This Handstand pose stretches your navel and strengthens your arms, shoulders and wrists.

This asana primarily focuses on the shoulders, arms wrists, legs, brain, lungs, pituitary gland and spine and provides a fresh energy and strength to these structures.

A Handstand pose definitely makes you aware of your entire being. When you perfect and master this topsy-turvy pose, all the bits and fragments of your body, mind and soul are straightened out.

Impact on Chakras

Adho Mukha Vruksasana is a Yoga Inversion. When we do inversions or go upside down, we naturally ignite our Sahasrara Chakra or Crown (7th) Chakra. It is believed that the Amrita or ‘nectar of immortality’ is placed or stored in the region of Sahasrara Chakra. When this chakra is stimulated by the Handstand Pose, the nectar or amrita naturally flows all through the body invigorating a fresh sense of energy and enthusiasm, setting right all the functions of the body. It will enable to hold the mind in a state of calmness and serenity and help kick of stress and untoward emotions.

Contraindications and precautions

Who should not do? (Contraindications and precautions for doing Adho Mukha Vrksasana)
Patients suffering from below mentioned conditions should avoid doing Adho Mukha Vrksasana –

  • Shoulder Injuries
  • Neck Injuries
  • Back Injuries
  • Headaches
  • Head diseases
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Menstruation

Pregnant women may avoid practicing this asana. But women who have mastered this asana before conception can do it till the end of pregnancy term, of course under the guidance and supervision of an expert Yoga teacher.

Adho Mukha Vrksasana with wall support

Just Before Finish
Adho Mukha Vrksasana is a good workout exercise to strengthen your upper limbs. Your shoulders, arms and wrists are immensely strengthened. Apart from this, the asana tones your belly muscles and also helps keeping your mind and brain cool and composed. This is a good treatment for stress, anxiety and depression.
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