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Practice with Clara

Clear a space against a wall for practice as we work with an L-shaped handstand at the wall. This class offers equal amounts of strengthening and lengthening using the wall as resistance to progress to Adho Mukha Vrksasana (handstand pose). Strengthen the core and back to prepare the body for balancing upside down. Lengthen the hamstrings, side waist, and shoulders to hold the pose as you breathe deeply.

Yoga is a way to bring us back into our bodies to become more aware of each sensation and all that we feel from moment to moment.

Style: Vinyasa

Duration: 60-mins

Level: open

Props: 2 blocks

Focus: A powerful class against the wall that works toward an L-shape handstand pose.

Location: Lila Familia Production Studio, Vancouver, BC

Spotify Playlist: Chandra Namaskar (PWC)


Opening Meditation

Take a tall seat using as many few props as you prefer and close your eyes. Let go of your day by breathing deeply into your body. Focus on the present by attuning to your breath.

One of the pillars of Tantric philosophy is in how the experience is the teacher. Some scholars believe that reading a text or studying with a teacher is the path to higher learning whereas the Tantricas believe that personal experience is the greatest teacher.

The offering for practice today is to remain in your own experience as you move and breath: listen to your body and do what serves. The greatest teacher lives inside of you; listen deeply to your inner teacher.

Open to your practice with one call to Om: the primordial sound of the universe that connects all of us.

Opening Flow 

10-15 breath to move as you like, options:

  • Balasana (child’s pose)
  • Adho Mukha Shvanasana (down dog)
  • Uttanasana (forward fold)
  • Bidalasana (cat pose)
  • Bitilasana (cow pose)

Come to Uttanasana (forward fold) at the top of your mat.

Roll yourself up to stand in a mountain pose.

2x Surya Namaskar at your own pace or following Clara’s cues.

Wave 1 

Tadasana (mountain pose)  with hands at heart

Utkatasana (chair pose) variation with flowing arms drawing circles

  • Inhale and take your arms forward and up,
  • Exhale and take the arms back and down.

Uttanasana (forward fold)

Ardha Uttanasana (half lift)

Anjaneyasana (low lunge) variation from Shiva Rea’s, Kalaripayattu

  • Inhale and take the arms overhead,
  • Exhale and bend the elbows, flip the palms up,
  • Inhale as you are with arms overhead,
  • Exhale and take the arms down and wide,
  • Inhale and take the hands by your sides, palms facing up
  • Exhale and sweep the arms back, palms facing up
  • Inhale and lean forward, lift the palms,
  • Exhale and take the arms down and wide,
  • Repeat several cycles.

Ardha Hanumanasana (half splits pose) with the blocks under your hands.

Phalakasana (plank pose) place a block between your inner thighs

  • Squeeze the block between your thighs,
  • Soften the jaw, so the neck stays long,
  • Hold and breathe here for five breaths.
  • Exhale and put the knees down and remove the block

Anahatasana (heart pose)

Bhujangasana (cobra pose) OR Urdhva Mukha Shvanasana (upward dog)

Adho mukha svanasana (down dog) with heels on the wall

  • Take the heels up the wall,
  • Press the balls of the feet to the ground,
  • Anchor through your hands and take the chest toward your thigh,
  • Raise one leg and take the ball of the foot up the wall,
  • Square your hips toward the ground,
  • Gentle bend in the standing leg,
  • Hold and breathe here for five breaths.

Virabhadrasana |  (warrior 1) variation with the back heel on the wall

  • Keep the back foot’s heel anchored on the wall as a point of resistance.
  • Square your hips toward the front of the mat,
  • Lift the pubic bone toward the belly,
  • Take hands overhead and flip the palms upwards,
  • Hold and breathe here for five breaths.

Come to stand with the back leg toward your chest to transition to the front of your mat.

Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana (standing hand to foot pose) variation with no hands.

Urdhva Hastasana (hands to sky pose)

Tadasana (mountain pose)

Turn around and face the back of your mat.

Urdhva Hastasana (hands to sky pose)

Uttanasana (forward fold)

Ardha Uttanasana (half lift)

Adho mukha svanasana (down dog) variation with feet together

  • Take your hands close to the wall,
  • Bring your shoulders over your wrists,
  • Lift one leg towards the sky,
  • Square your hips to the ground,
  • Look forward between your hands,
  • Take three little hops, lifting the extended leg towards the wall, OR
  • Hold here and breathe deeply.

Uttanasana (forward fold) and breath for 5-10 breaths

Roll up to stand and turn around to face the front of your mat.

Repeat the same sequence on the other leg.

Peak Pose Flow

Turn around to face the wall for an L-shape handstand.

Measure yourself on the wall by placing your feet flat on the wall.

Wherever your bum lands, one hand will go there.

Turn around so your feet are against the wall and you’re facing the front of your mat; stack your shoulders over your wrists and lift your hips for a down dog with your heels on the wall.

Handstand Option 1: L-Shape on the Wall

  • Walk your feet up the wall from down dog
  • Place your feet so that they are in line with your hips
  • Press your heels and ball of the foot against the wall to anchor
  • Press your hands against the ground and puff up the back body
  • Keep your shoulders stacked over your hands and draw your chest toward your thighs

Take your feet and knees to the ground and rest in children pose to feel the effects of what we’ve just done.

Handstand Option 2: L-Shape on the Wall with Leg Lifts

  • Take the same shape we created in option 1, stay here OR add to it by taking one leg off the wall at a time
  • Anchor your feet up the wall at hip height
  • Bring your heels together so big toes touch
  • Press one foot where it is and lift the opposite leg to the sky
  • Reach from the heel toward the sky straight up out of your hip
  • Take five breaths here and switch legs.

Take a child’s pose to rest between sides.

Handstand Option 3: Handstand Hops off the Wall 

  • Do one of the previous options OR take your handstand off the wall
  • Come to the middle of your mat with your palms about a foot away from the wall
  • Come into a downward-facing dog
  • Walk your feet in towards your hands
  • Stack your shoulders over your wrists
  • Lift one leg and point your toes towards the sky
  • Take little hops on the standing leg
  • Attempt to reach your extended toes toward the wall
  • Press the ground away from you with your hands
  • Take 3-5 hops on one side, and then switch

Take a child’s pose or seat and rest to feel the effect of this in your body.

Cooling Flow 

Come to a seat for a few stretches to release the hands after handstand practice.

  1. Make small circles with your hands to relieve the wrists
  2. Make fists with your hands and flick the fingers outwards
  3. Clasp your palms and flip the palms up towards the sky
  4. Clasp your palms behind you and lift your chest

*We also want to release the chest and open the heart after handstands as the pectorals and shoulders work during handstand pose.

Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (bridge pose) OR Urdhva Dhanurasana (wheel pose) to open the heart and front body. Take 5-10 breaths in either pose before resting on your back.

Cooling Sequence at the Wall 

Come to the wall and make ample space on either side of you and your mat.

Viparita Karani (legs up the wall)

  • Take your bum closer to the wall to get a deeper stretch in your hamstrings
  • Take your bum further away from the wall to make space in the low back

Seated meditation or savasana to close

Malasana (yogic squat) against the wall

  • Bend your knees and take your feet to the wall on either side
  • Your knees move towards your armpits
  • Keep one knee bent and extend the other leg out to the side to stretch your hamstrings and inner thigh
  • Stay here OR take half happy baby pose in the leg that’s not extended
  • Stay here and breathe 5-10 breaths
  • Switch sides when you’re done

Viparita Karani (legs up the wall)

Supta Matsyendrasana (reclined spinal twist) with legs on the wall

  • Cactus your arms wide to either side
  • Bend your knees and with your feet on the wall, lift your hips and move them to one side of your mat
  • Lower your knees to the opposite side of your mat so the legs stack
  • Place a block or blanket between the inner thighs if you need the support
  • 10-15 breaths in this pose
  • Switch sides and repeat on the other leg

Viparita Karani (legs up the wall) for 10-15 breaths

Closing Pranayama

Stay in Viparita Karani OR come up to a tall seat using the wall to support your back for Nadi Shodhana.

  • Pause at the bottom
  • Inhale on the right nostril
  • Plug both nostrils and hold at the top
  • Release the left nostril and exhale
  • Pause at the bottom
  • Repeat several cycles on your own.

To do this with Clara, you’ll inhale for the count of six, hold for four, and exhale for the count of eight as you alternate between each side.

Nadhi Shodhana benefits:

This style of pranayama carries more oxygen to the blood than regular breathing; it also soothes the nervous system, helps create calm in the body and mind, and balances the subtle body.

This pranayama is called Nadi Shodhana, aka alternate nostril breathing.

Nadi Shodhana set up:

  • Take your thumb to your right nostril,
  • Take your ring and pinkie fingers to the left nostril
  • Place your index and middle finger to your third eye between the brows.

Nadhi Shodhana how-to:

  • Plug your right nostril and inhale on the left side
  • Plug both nostrils and hold at the top
  • Release the right nostril and exhale from the right side