Classes are excellent for learning the correct alignment of poses. However, what lies beyond the physical form of an asana? Here Yoga Mandir teacher Sally Mumford (pictured) shares some of her personal reflections on handstand.
Adho Mukha Vrkasana, translated as downward facing tree pose is commonly known as handstand. The image of an upside down tree is inspiring; it describes the inner energy of the pose. You look back down to earth with your hands firmly rooted to the ground, limbs fully stretched, legs and feet reaching up to the sky.
Light on Yoga states, “this pose develops the body harmoniously”. For this reason it is one of my favourite poses. Not that it always brings harmony, in fact it is a pose that seems to bring out in me a wide range of emotional states from exhilaration and excitement to despondency, disappointment and envy. After many years of practicing handstands, they still elude me. They require a certain amount of upper body strength but more so a quiet mental state and focus that involves being fully present. More often than not I get caught up in desire, longing to achieve what “I “ think I should be able to do, (especially after so many years!).
Some days, quiet unexpectantly, when the mind is in complete harmony with the body, the balance comes. All outcomes and desires are let go of, so the dullness and heaviness is transformed into lightness. However, accepting each handstand, each time for what it is at that moment is the essence. Returning to this lesson again and again is very humbling and one of the hidden joys of the yoga journey.