One-pose wonder: handstand

Midwinter blahs got you down? Boost your spirits and your energy with a handstand (Adho Mukha Vrksasana). This pose may be quick – but it’s not necessarily easy. Learn how to get the most from this one-pose wonder that turns your world upside down, in a good way.
You can take handstand anywhere. All you need is a wall, or something like it. My favorite places I have done handstand were in Avebury, near Stonehenge in the UK (I would have done it at Stonehenge, but since you cannot touch the stones, I was worried about my foot even lightly tapping one), and using my horse’s shoulder as my wall.
A few years ago, I started working handstand into my gym routine. It helped me wake up and energize for my tough training sessions. Since then, I can’t count the number of people that have asked me about it. Everyone thinks they can’t do it, but the secret is committing to the long haul; it’s not going to be pretty the first few tries (or even weeks). When I first started practicing handstand, even though my upper body was reasonably strong, I was shaking and couldn’t hold it very long. Like any other yoga pose, the benefits are cumulative.
Another secret is technique, which I take you through here, in my latest tutorial on the Athleta Chi blog. One more thing I lost count of is the number of holes that were kicked in the walls of my former Washington DC yoga studio, from students learning handstand. Like with any inversion pose, do not rush its full expression. You must put in a little time to master the mechanics, or you will get frustrated (and may end up with a hole kicked in your wall).
Handstand is one of the best upper body strengtheners, in my opinion. Heard that before, about chaturanga, perhaps? If you’re stuck and can’t seem to improve your chaturangas, this can help you break through. And since it takes a minute or less, it’s easy to fit in on a daily basis. Try it for two weeks and tell me what happens…I’d love to hear about how pleased you are with your new muscle definition, sense of balance, and energy.
Athleta newsflash: I will be teaching a FREE vinyasa flow yoga class at the San Francisco store on Thursday, March 14 at 7:30 pm! Bay area yoginis, I would love to meet you on the mat. 
Yeehaw & Namaste.