Your Monthly Yoga Pose
Ardha Adho Mukha Vrksasana
October is breast cancer awareness month. The symbolic color being pink and the focus is raising awareness of symptoms, early detection, research, and education. October is also the month of Halloween, both scary and “not-so-scary” events. I chose L-Pose on the Wall, or ardha adho mukha vrksasana, because it is a pose that both strengthens and elongates the chest as well as works on overcoming the fear of being upside down.
Full handstand, or adho mukha vrksasana, is a pose that still brings me some fear. The older I become, the more I worry about injury. Ardha, or half in Sanskrit, is a way to practice half of the full handstand, feel away from the security blanket of the wall, but still have the wall to work with.
A degree of strength and fearlessness is needed to tackle the pose; however, that statement can be made about many things in life. We need to build strength within ourselves to have a degree of fearlessness to handle the situations we are thrown into in life. For someone getting diagnosed with breast cancer (or any life-threatening and life-altering disease) and for their friends and family, the feeling of fear is inevitable. In yoga, we practice asana, or postures, to learn how to deal with the emotions that arise in life. We look at our yoga practice and gain strength, physically and mentally, to tackle and sustain the ongoing thing we call life.
- Sit with legs extended and feet on the wall. Pay attention to where your hips are, perhaps placing a block, book or marker.
- Turn around and place hands, shoulder-distance apart, where the block, book or marker was. (This is no longer needed. It is needed to make sure your arms are legs-distance away from the wall.)
- Begin to walk your feet on the wall.
- Press your hips over your shoulders and keep your feet at hip level. The pose will be easier if your legs are higher than your hips. However, you’ll be making more of a diagonal line, instead of an “L-pose.” (Do not get discouraged if this happens. You are getting a super shoulder workout if you can hold a diagonal. Continue to practice and slowly inch your feet toward hip level.)
- Play with the level of your feet. You will feel your core turn on as your feet come closer to hip level.
- Bring the navel in toward the spine and hold the pose for five inhales and exhales.
- To add to the pose, lift one leg at a time and keep it in line with the shoulders and hips. Make sure to do both sides if this is the case.
- To release the pose, walk your feet down the wall and end in a restorative child’s pose.
The benefits of L-pose are gaining strength all over, but mainly the shoulders and back muscles. In addition, it opens the chest and creates space from the naval to the armpits. L-pose also helps create a sense of balance while upside down, and it promotes blood flow to the brain. As with all poses, please practice responsibly and with care.
To donate to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, visit https://donate.nationalbreastcancer.org.
Natalia Foote is the owner of threeR, a company bringing mindfulness, meditation and yoga practices to the workplace. Her mission in life is spreading love and light in the world. When not spending time with her family, you can find Natalia taking and teaching yoga all around Lake Nona.