The Quest for the Press
In Depth Asanas / May 20, 2016

The Quest for the Press


Some see it as a kind of Holy Grail: the perfect ‘no effort’ drift into Adho Mukha Vrksasana (handstand) as a new relationship with gravity. It looks smooth and it feels even better. But there’s more to it than that. I’ve been teaching inversion workshops for a while and therefore it’s important for me to ensure I fully understand the ‘ins and outs.’ As it happens, my very first teacher simply would not let me jump into a handstand, and since then I never have. In fact, I actually find jumping into handstand less comfortable and more erratic.

What are the real benefits of a smooth, controlled glide into inversions? Well, smooth and controlled are key here. Pressing hands firmly into the ground leads to far greater control, enabling inversions to become a constituent part of a regular practice rather than the uncertain bit, which is both fun and frustrating but always a mental and physical challenge. Without the elements of smoothness and control, inversions can be a distraction, taking you away from your breath and the root purpose of your practice.

Physically, the ‘press’ is likely to add longevity to a strong practice too. Each time you jump into a handstand, you put additional, excess pressure into your lower back, wrists and shoulders, which, in time, they won’t thank you for. By pressing in a controlled way, you also make sure that you stack your joints correctly from the entry into the final pose. Imagine trying to build a stable tower of glasses by throwing one on top of another from a few feet away, compared with gently placing one on top of the next. The latter’s definitely going to lead to less cleaning up! So, yes, the ‘press’ is cool, but it’s also absolutely functional in building greater longevity and enjoyment into your practice.

In this workshop, we will spend time learning many basic techniques used to find that initial press as well as fun presses into handstand from arm balances such as Crow, One-Legged Crow and Firefly. Whether you are experienced or completely new to being upside down this workshop will support you on your journey. Inversions are a great place to build trust while practicing patience and playfulness.

Join Ambra Vallo on 10th September for a two-hour inversion workshop that will help you to overcome the challenge of going upside down, and conquer inversions with grace.