Have you seen all of the yogis on social media doing epic handstands anywhere and everywhere they can? They do their handstand, then push-up, and even take it to one side and balance on one arm. But here’s a secret… a proper handstand is not some trick yoga that you can’t achieve without gymnastic level training. Whatever your goal is, here is a foundational guide to build strength to your perfect handstand.
The first, most intuitive way to work on your handstand is with a wall. Popping up either facing the wall or backing up into it walking your feet up into position. This is a great way to get a feel for your handstand, however it is still a crutch for the stabilizer muscles.
Try this: Once up on the wall, tucking, or rather simply looking forward and trying to straighten as much as possible with your body from head to toe. Next, try to feel the equilibrium of what this posture requires. Once that is felt, we want to send strength into those areas that lack stability. Do this by reverse shrugging or pushing your shoulders away from your ears and back trying to maintain straightness in your spine as much as possible. This will further develop the muscles and stability that are needed to find a secure balance when practicing without the wall.
Once you’ve built your confidence and some of those minor muscles necessary to make the transition off the wall, now you’re ready for hop switch and leap frog progressions. This uses momentum to send your torso and eventually your legs into the handstand position.
Try this: in forward fold, walk your hand about 6 inches in front of you and plant them in position. Then with one leg up and one out for balance, shoot up and alternate hence switch. This way you feel the two sides and the equilibrium inching closer. Next try leap frogging where you try to get your hips over your torso with both of your legs together but bent towards your torso. Think of sending your Buddha squat to the sky. Once you find stability, try extending both legs straight up. Keep your core tight!
When practicing handstands- You will fall.
One of the best things to know while building your handstand is how to properly fall. You often see someone take it back to full wheel going completely over their head. If you have the flexibility in your back and can make the landing softly, then this is fine. However this is not ideal. You can easily pinch or crash land too abruptly taking this way out.
Try this: When beginning to topple try quarter turning without over turning your wrist too much. This will take your body to the side and have you landing like a gymnast. Next is the “secret service” roll out. If you don’t properly tuck your head to roll down through your spine you can creak your neck with a “bonk” on the way down. Be extra cautious as always, and even training with a crash pad is recommended.
Remember, as with any yoga pose, practice makes perfect and oftentimes in order to get your inversion you have to be committed to practicing it every day!
Now you’re ready for your one armed paddle board handstand push up!