Adho Mukha Vrksasana or Downward-Facing Tree

Adho mukha VrksasanaAdho mukha Vrksasana – Downward Facing Tree

What is Adho mukha Vrksasana?

The Adho Mukha Vrkasana or downward facing tree, Vrk meaning tree in Sanskrit, is meant for highly skilled practitioners of Yoga.The word comes from the Sanskrit word ‘adho’ meaning ‘downward’ , ‘mukha’ meaning ‘face’ , ‘vrksa’ meaning ‘tree’ and ‘asana’ meaning ‘posture’.

An inverted pose, it supplies fresh, oxygen-rich blood to the brain and relieves the heart as it does not have to pump against the gravity. A great reliever of stress, this asana stretches and strengthens your arms, shoulders and wrists. It is perfect to build stamina, a sense of balance and coordination. Your spine, lungs and pituitary glands also benefit; improves immunity.

Caution: Pregnant women, those with high blood pressure and complaints of headaches should not perform this asana. There are chances of neck injury.

Here’s a step-by-step guide:

Place the mat parallel to the wall. Place palms about 1.5 feet away from the wall and spread as wide as your shoulders.

Bring your legs in until hips are lifted as high as possible with shoulders are directly above the hands. Steady your shoulders, keep forearms vertical, lift upper arms and straighten elbows.

One at a time, raise legs as high up as possible. Then repeat with the other leg. Keep knees steady while performing this. The movement must be smooth, not fast.

Feel the weight and steady yourself by pressing palms and fingers on the floor; keep elbows straight, support weight with shoulders while opening the collar bones. Lift your legs with the torso; straighten your spine and tighten your knees as you stand parallel to the wall.

Hold the pose for 10 to 15 seconds initially. As you attain mastery over it, try to hold it for up to a minute.

To come out of the pose, keep body steady and lower one leg at a time, bent. Over a period of time, try to bring both legs down together, bent or straight.

Rest in Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend).

Adho mukha Vrksasana Steps

1. Come into adho mukha svanasana (Downward facing dog) with the hands about a foot away from the wall.

2. Walk the feet in closer to the hands. The wall should be close to the shoulders.

3. Bend one knee and kick up with the other leg.

4. Try to practice taking the heels away from the wall and balancing.

5. Try to remain in this posture from 15-30 seconds. Try to bring one leg down one at a time and take maximum rest before trying to kick up with the opposite leg so you stay balanced.

Adho Mukha Vrksasana Benefits

1. It decompresses the spine.

2. It strengthens the wrists, arms and shoulders.

3. It is therapeutic for headaches and mild depression.

4. It improves sense of balance.

Adho Mukha Vrksasana Dos and Don’ts

Don’t do this asana if you suffer from back, shoulder or neck injury.Also,don’t perform this asana if you suffer from Carpel Tunnel Syndrome or high blood pressure.Also,avoid this asana if you have glaucoma or pregnant with a child.

Adho Mukha Svanasana Pose | The Downward Facing Dog

Adho Mukha Svanasana is a combination of words which literally translates to ‘Downward Facing Dog’ asana. Adho comes from Sanskrit word ‘adhas’, meaning downward, mukha means face and svana is Sanskrit for dog.

A beginner’s level asana, on a physical level it stretches the entire body, especially arms, shoulders, legs and spine. By strengthening the entire body, it channelizes energy and removes fatigue. Since the asana specially works on the spine and improves blood flow, it also strengthens the immune and digestive systems. The downward bend improves blood flow to the brain and sinuses, calming the mind.

Here’s a step by step guide:

Start on all fours so that your hands are directly under your shoulders and knees directly under your hip, both at 90° angle.

The palms should be firmly on the mat and fingers should be spread out. Now, straighten your knees, straighten your spine and lift your tailbone up as you also straighten your legs. Push the front portion of your thighs back and stretch your heels so that the ankle touches the floor and stays there. Simultaneously, let your chest sink a little towards the floor, and let your neck relax so your heart faces your thighs.

Hold the pose for 5 breaths, or anywhere between a minute and 3, and then rest in Balasana (child’s pose).

Yoga and History of Yoga

Yoga is the ancient meditative practice for well-being of the mind, body and soul (atman). But in the modern world, Yoga and its practice has been stripped to a set of studio exercises.

Yoga literally means yoking or union. Etymologically speaking, the term comes from the root word, ruj, which means ‘to bind’. The word’s other meanings are: “conjugation of stars”, “grammatical rule”, “magic”, “aggregate” and so on. But what is being “yoked”? In most disciplines of yoga, what is unified is the conscious subject (jiva-atman) and with the Supreme Self (paramataman) to the point of reaching the ecstatic condition called Samadhi, meaning “putting together”.

While some scholars emphasize that Yoga developed primarily as a Hindu tradition, archaeological evidence shows that the discipline blossomed much before clear religions sprang up and the practice was adopted by Hindus, Jains and Buddhist, equally.

Earliest archaeological evidence of Yoga’s existence can be found in stone seals which depict figures of Yoga poses. These seals place Yoga’s existence at around 3000 BC. Researchers, however, believe that Yoga existed long before this approximated date, some even having traced its beginnings to Stone Age Shamanism.

Shaman is a seasoned, spiritual traveller in the realm of spirits. Shamanism, thus, is the art of changing one consciousness to enter extraordinary realms of being. While yoga probably did not grow directly from shamanism, it absorbed some of its elements, like poses, transcendence, asceticism, and illumination (Feuerstein 1997).

While yogis aspire self-liberation, shamans primarily concerned themselves with other-worldly knowledge. Yoga may have thus emerged when tribal communities served by shamans developed into city states – the change marking a shift in consciousness from community to individual self awareness.

Over the ages Yoga can be broadly studied under four period: Vedic (Archaic) Yoga, Pre-Classical Yoga (1500-1000 B.C.), Classical Yoga (600-400 B.C.), Post-Classical Yoga (post Patanjali period) and Modern Yoga.