Shameem Akthar, yogacharya trained with the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Center, shows you four playful hand balancers to enhance your yoga practice.
Yogic hand balancers are treated with a lot of trepidation by certain schools, when actually they usher in a playful element in your yoga practice.
They require skill and strength to perform, both of which are acquired as a matter of course, with a regular yoga sadhana/ practice. To evolve in practice and ensure that you stick to it, you must bring in a playful element -- which is achieved by these hand balancers. Obviously, they cannot be learnt just by looking at these images or reading the instructions here; ideally they must learnt in a class, with the expert guidance of a teacher. This column therefore may be seen as a teaser to those of you already practicing it as well as an inducement to those who wrongly think yoga is boring.
To execute such hand balancers you need more than strength: the emotional intelligence which yoga confers is a direct benefit of such poses. Your ability to not be deterred by fear, ability to stand aside of your emotions, and learn the right sort of restraint (too much eagerness in such poses can actually be counterproductive) all come from regular practice of such challenging poses. The nervous co-ordination involved in holding these poses also challenges the cerebellum, yet again providing a powerful training of our primitive and emotional selves.
The ability to infuse your sadhana with playfulness is clearly an advanced stage that comes from regular practice.
Caution: Poses are meant only for those already practicing yoga and must not be attempted by those with lower back problems, wrist or shoulder joint injury or pain.
Text: Shameem Akthar
Photographs: Jahnavi Sheriff
Catch more of Shameem's yoga writings and about her upcoming workshops at jaisivananda.blogspot.com
This article only attempts to enthuse readers towards yoga practice and complement your existing practice. Yoga is best learnt under the personal guidance of a teacher.
Also read: How to choose the right yoga mat