Goal: to rock a handstand? It’s something that we all want. After all we see beauty and strength on a daily basis through social media, our studios and our fellow yogis.  So it’s only natural to want to pull off a sturdy and well aligned handstand.  But, as we know, there’s far more to the journey to a handstand than a photo or kudos. As Henry Thoreau, an American poet and philosopher from the 1800s said, “What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.”

After all, inversions have a dizzying amount of benefits, from improving our circulation to uplifting our mood to building strength, and apparently even making us look younger…

So what are some of the steps which will help with our journey to handstand, and what will we become along the way!?  

Step 1: Open your shoulders and bring awareness to the shoulder girdle.

unnamed-9What you get from this:  

Space to stack your wrists, shoulders and hips in a straight line.

How

  • Place a block (or books) in front of you.
  • Come into a table-top position
  • Bend your elbows and place them on the block, palms together and fingers pointing to the sky
  • Melt your heart down as you open your front body
  • Option: A partner can pull your forearms away from you while you pull them towards yourself.  Then, your partner can push your forearms towards you while you push them towards your partner.

Step 2: Plug your femur into your hip socket

unnamed-8

What you’ll get from this:

In addition to bringing lift into your hips, it’ll help you keep them square as you kick up.  Often the leading leg un-squares the hips as it kicks up; plugging the other leg into the hip will help reduce this action.

How:

  • Start in a downward dog
  • Draw your right foot off the ground about 5cm
  • Encourage your toes towards your face (they’ll probably only shift a few centimetres)
  • Notice how your femur plugs into your hip
  • Repeat on the other side
  • Apply this to your handstand practice

Step 3:  Hug your legs together

unnamed-10

What you’ll get from this:

This will give you lift and lightness as your weight draws towards the centre line.

How:

  • Start in plank pose
  • Get a friend to lift you ankles off the ground
  • Your friend will let go of one ankle – you need to keep your legs squeezing together so the leg doesn’t drop
  • Your friend will change ankles randomly
  • Apply this hugging action to your handstand practice once you’re inverted

Step 4:  Open your hamstrings

image5What you’ll get from this:

This will give you space to get your hips as far over your shoulders as possible so you have less distance to travel as you kick up.

How:

  • Lie on your back
  • Point your right toes to the sky, with both legs engaged
  • Interlace your hands behind your right thigh (or calf) and pull your leg towards you, keeping your shoulders grounded
  • Press your leg against your hands for 3 breaths and then release the pressure. Repeat this three times.
  • Then repeat with the other leg

Whether or not you get your end goal today, next month (or ever!), the strength, focus and flexibility you cultivate along the way is the sweetest victory!  Let us know in the comments below if you have any tips or stories about your journey to handstand.

 

Article by Steve Roberts

Steve Roberts is a passionate yogi, teacher/trainer, nature lover and adventure seeker from South Africa. Yoga brings him strength and flexibility in body, mind and heart. 

@steveroberts.yoga

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