Essential reading if you’re working on your Handstands


OK. It’s true that handstands aren’t the easiest of yoga poses, but it is also true that you don’t need to be superhuman to succeed at these poses. Yoga shows us that we ordinary people can do amazing things, and it doesn’t take a complicated pose to feel that way. Getting a hold of your breath and moving into revolved triangle will do the job; you can’t help but fell exhilarated as your torso twists. So, why not try a handstand?

It’s OK to use a wall

We’ve established that handstands are not impossible or for elite yogis only, but that doesn’t mean we don’t take precautions. As with any yoga pose, we honor our limitations and respect that learning takes time, which is why we use a wall when learning. Observe the warnings about these poses-such as avoiding doing inverted handstands if you have a heart condition, are menstruating, or any handstands if you have certain back, wrist or shoulder injuries.

Upside down handstands: The biggest key to staying up is learning how to fall

Learning to get into a handstand starts with learning how to get out of one. Get comfortable landing back on your feet when you drop out of the pose; practice this repeatedly, and before each new attempt at handstand. Once you do this, you know how to land, so you don’t have to worry if you go upside down and suddenly feel a pain in your wrist or if you feel yourself start to topple sideways.

Inverted handstands are not about brute strength

Doing a handstands means flowing smoothly into the pose. The muscles in your wrists and forearms are small, but there are many of them. So all these small muscles must work together to keep you softly anchored to the floor. It is your core muscles that will provide the stability for the rest of the body so that you can balance your weight above your hands.

The tactics are a bit different for men and women

You’ll find the instructions for handstands are generally the same for all students, but there are some key differences in men’s and women’s bodies. Neither gender has an advantage over the other in handstands; both can do them equally proficiently, especially if they respect the uniqueness of their bodies.

Women’s bodies are generally lighter than men’s, they key difference is usually a smaller, thinner frame. Women also have an extra set of ribs; this is a key difference that should be a point of focus. With an extra set of ribs comes an extra set of intercostal muscles. These muscles never really get bulky, but one can master a great deal of control over them.

Breathing for handstands-women’s tactics

Breathing exercises enable you to learn how to lengthen and shorten the intercostals. Once this type of control is mastered, the intercostals can be used to bend the back with precise, slow-flowing movement (with the legs overhead acting as balancing counterweight). Breathing to connect with the muscles is key in any yoga pose, and in a handstand, it really pays off.

Tactics for men

A man has a shorter chest and can’t use the intercostals to the same extent as a woman for balance, but a man’s center of gravity is in his upper torso, unlike a woman’s which is in her pelvis. A man has the advantage of having his center of gravity in his upper body, where he is strongest. He’ll focus less on moving each of the intercostals and more on utilizing the intercostals collectively to lift the weight of his legs and pelvis with his chest and upper back.

Different variations of handstand are all beneficial

You can use a strap to steady your arms in inverted handstands; this also teaches you to keep the chest spread out and not to let the torso cave in, which can prevent even the strongest person from holding a handstand pose. There are other handstands that don’t require being upside down, such as swinging block handstand the half crane pose and many more.

These poses will require a strong core, but they are more about keeping yourself light and distributing your weight. They can also be practiced by a wall when getting started. Even a few seconds in a handstand will make you feel amazing and you will quickly build your confidence, which is as important to your yoga practice as is your ability to do any pose.

Yogasync Me!  Alignment Counts! Watch the video, even if you’re not quite there yet, to start building your handstand intelligence:

The alignment yoga experts at Yogasync designed this class just for you!

Stand On Your Own Two Hands!

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About Vincent Gerbino

Vincent Gerbino is a YogaFit™ Certified Yoga Teacher. “Yoga isn’t what I do, it is who I am.” Yoga completely changed my life for the better. Soon after I started my own practice, I said to myself that I had to eventually become a teacher so I could give to the world what Yoga gave to me. In 2006, Vincent began teaching Yoga, five years after he began his own practice. Vincent is also a trained barefoot runner, a co-organizer of the Boulder Barefoot Running Club, and enjoys bicycling, rollerblading and hiking.

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