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Adho Mukdha Vrksasana
   by Anthony Benenati 

Handstand: Adho Mukha Vrksasana that literally translates into downward facing tree pose. We in the west call it handstand, or the pose of ultimate fear! I cannot explain to you the looks on my new student's faces when I tell them this is the next pose. It is as if I'd just spun my head around in a complete circle. There is something about this pose that sends even the strongest of men to the drinking fountain for an abnormally long period of time…

This pose, when done correctly, will not only increase strength and flexibility in the arms, shoulders and wrists but also a feeling of empowerment. Let's do this

First we should warm up so begin in Adho Mukha Svanasana (sound familiar?) Downward Facing Dog Pose. Placing the hands shoulders width apart and firmly on the floor, stretch the energy up the arms into the shoulders then down the spine continuing down the backside of your legs into the earth. Breathing
deeply continue holding the pose for 1 minute. Resting in child's pose with your arms stretched out, lift the palms of your hands off the floor so you are only on your fingertips and press then down creating muscle energy in the arms. After 30 seconds or so, come back into Adho Mukha Svanasana for another 30
seconds to 1 minute continuing to breathe deeply, then look towards the hands and either step or lightly jump forward coming into Uttanasana. Place the hands on the hips, draw the shoulders onto the back by squeezing the shoulder blades together and inhale rise to standing.

First, let's begin at a wall. Come on to your hands and knees with your head facing the wall. Place your hands approx. eight inches away from the wall and shoulders width apart. Keeping the arms strong, melt the heart towards the floor until your shoulder blades move towards each other. Now curl your toes under and press back into down dog. Shift your body forward until your shoulders align over your wrists. Step one foot in closer to your hands (here we go) and with a courageous kick, swing the other leg up towards the ceiling and onto the wall. Keep your arms strong and your legs firmly together and stretch up valiantly towards the sky. That's it! You're there. Hold for 30 seconds to one minute and gracefully fold in half to come down and rest in Uttanasana.

If you were not able to get up or hold for the length of time, do not get discouraged.Handstand is a very challenging posture, one that requires diligent practice and a desire to face and move through your fears. I am confidant that with help from a qualified teacher and daily practice you will find yourself in this posture before you can say Adho Mukha Vrksasana.

Anthony Benenati is the co-owner of City Yoga, the immensely popular yoga studio in Los Angeles. Anthony's classes are challenging both for the body and mind, but communicated in such a way as only he can rich with humor, warmth and love. Anthony has been teaching/studying yoga for 7 years in
the Los Angeles area. He has studied with some of the worlds most influential masters and continues to study with John Friend. Anthony has been featured on local news shows and in magazines such as Living Fit and Fitness as well as People Magazine en Espanol and most recently in the Hollywood Reporter. He has written yoga newsletter will be featured repeatedly in Yoga Nation. 

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