July 21, 2017

How to approach handstands? Beginner tips.

My personal journey with handstands started a few years ago, when I saw people practicing handstands on the Green in Santa Monica Muscle Beach. I was fascinated by the beauty of a handstand and the challenge it entails. Arguably, handstands are one of the hardest balances out there in yoga practice.

It’s hard to believe that now I reached the level of mastery that allows me to hold a full handstand for more than 30 seconds and also to control it on the way down. It took me over a year to get to where I am right now, and the journey continues!

As a personal trainer and a yoga teacher, I’m going to lay out several tips for people who want to learn handstands but don’t where to start:

  1. Work on your core strength. Having a strong and connected core is a necessary part of a proper handstand, otherwise you’ll end up doing a “banana back” handstand where the core is disconnected from the rest of the body and it may put unnecessary pressure on your lower back. You can find some core strengthening exercises in my earlier blog posts.
  2. The best core exercise that helps to build a handstand strength and alignment is a pike. You can perform it by placing your feet on the ball or in TRX straps. You could even ask a partner hold your feet if you don’t have any equipment accessible to you at the moment. Start in plank with your hands on the floor shoulder width apart, leg position- ball/TRX/partner,  inhale to prepare, on the exhale squeeze your abs and send your butt up to the sky. Keep your legs and arms as straight as possible, so you end up hinging only at your hips. Repeat 8-10 times, rest for a minute, and then do another set or two.
  3. Work on your shoulder/armpit flexibility. You can start by simply hanging on the bar for a few seconds and letting your lats and armpits stretch out. Another way is placing your hands on the wall up above your head and pushing your chest forward. Do pretty much anything that would help you open up your armpit area so that when you’re upside down, you can extend through your shoulders and push the ground away from you.
  4. Improve your hamstring and inner thigh flexibility, which will help you press into a handstand and also hold a straddle handstand. Practice forward folds with your legs straight together and with your legs apart in a wide angle.
  5. Practice with a partner, preferably someone who is skilled in a handstand and has a good understanding of its alignment. My personal experience proves it- as soon as I started doing my handstands consistently with a trainer, they progressed much quicker than when I was doing it on my own.

Let me know if you want my assistance in mastering a handstand, I’d love to guide you through this process in a gradual and safe way. And most importantly, handstands are just very fun to do 😉

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