05/26/2015 03:50 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Yoga Challenge Pose: Handstand

By Yoga Journal

Find your edge and shift your weight into your hands as you move step by step into Adho Mukha Vrksasana.


Energizes, builds confidence, hones attention and focus, shifts perspective, strengthens your upper body, and reverses the effects of gravity (compression and shortening) on your spine.

Step 1

Start in Adho Mukha Svanasana. Bring your feet together at the midline; spread your palms and press them into the floor. Stretch through the sides of the waist and fortify your legs. Start to lift the heels, shifting some of your weight into the balls of the feet.

Step 2

Step your right foot forward halfway to your hands and bring your shoulders over your wrists. Allow your right knee to bend. Keep the ball of the right foot on the floor but lift the heel. Press down firmly through your hands and lift your left leg into Standing Splits. Remember to lift your left inner thigh toward the ceiling and make your leg straight, like an arrow. Wrap your biceps forward. Push firmly down into your hands and make your arms completely straight, like pillars. Find a focal point, or drishti, on the ground, a few inches in front of your hands.

Step 3

Keep your arms firm. Bend the right knee deeply and take a small hop off the right foot. It is paramount that as you transition weight onto your hands, you lift up through the inner left thigh (as opposed to reaching the left leg behind you). Draw the low belly in to support the pelvis. Do not aim to get your legs overhead; instead, aim to place your pelvis over your chest and shoulders. When you lead with your legs and not your pelvis, you will often backbend and find balance elusive. Eventually, you will be able to bring the right leg parallel to the floor into an inverted Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana. At this stage, don't lift the right leg higher—it will serve as an anchor and keep you from flipping over. Once you have the right leg parallel to the floor, internally rotate the thighs, drawing them energetically into the midline. Your legs should feel like scissor blades: bolted firmly into their common point (the pelvis) and moving along, but not away from, the midline.

Almost there? Reach your handstand with the final prep pose.