how to handstand

how to do a handstand
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I’ve been practicing for 10 years and have been trying to hold a handstand for 10 years. I feel like I have enough shoulder strength but don’t feel like I am balancing myself in the right way. Any advice or tips would be very helpful. Thanks! - Patricia

a yogi answers

Dear Patricia,

Don’t give up! Make sure you are pressing through the knuckles of your fingers and drawing energy up though your palms - keep little pockets of air in your palms. Make sure your core and legs are engaged. I usually fall out of balance if I hyperextend my lower ribs, so make sure they are nicely contained within your torso along with your belly. Find some softness through your shoulders (joints), ensuring you are not locking them, focusing on your upper arm strength.

- Grace, lululemon Queen St. ambassador

Do you have any tips or advice for Patricia to hold a strong and balanced handstand?

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I tried handstand yesterday and I actually almost got it! Will have to keep these tips in mind…

Comment by Stewart — July 7, 2010 @ 4:43 pm

Darren Main gave me a great tip when he was in Boulder last month (at least it’s helping me!) which is to put a microbend in your very straight arms and then melt your heart towards the floor (think upward facing dog here). It seems to give you a better sense of gravity. He also had us practice against the wall and as you look FORWARD your feet naturally come off the wall a little and you can take mini-steps toward balancing on your own. I feel your pain Patricia, I too have been practicing almost a decade and handstand has alluded me. Guess the good news for us is that we can still have fun being yogi beginners in some way!

Comment by taylor — July 10, 2010 @ 1:42 pm

Patricia, you are not alone!! I too struggle with handstand and was frustrated when my very athletic but not flexible football player partner jumped right up. However, the best tip I got from my teacher in my training was to focus on drawing your pubic bone toward your navel, and your navel toward your spine before you go up. She had us do plenty of core work before coming to the wall and I got up on my second try! You can access this posture :) Definitely look forward to where the wall meets the floor, draw your pubis to your navel and lift from the pelvis. Strong legs! Good luck~ Namaste!

Comment by Kate — July 12, 2010 @ 10:42 pm

Patricia do not fret! I couldn’t do a handstand for the longest time – my instructor would always come and help me stretch my feet up.

I once stayed after class to get her to help me but also talk me through it so I knew what I should be focusing on and one piece of advice that really helped is to keep your feet flexed (as if you were on the ground standing versus pointing your toes) and to squeeze your inner thighs and ankles nice and tight as you are focusing on straightening them.

Then, you breath. Big, deep, slow breaths. And it happened!! I did it myself!! She didn’t hold me, lift me, position me. And I held it for a good 20 seconds. Been doing it ever since.

Another helpful hint – men’s centre of gravity is in their shoulders whereas ours are in our hips. Keep your hips and core tight and straight. That is really important. If your core and hip flexors aren’t strong, try doing some exercises to build your way up.

Happy Headstanding!

Comment by Aleksandra S — July 15, 2010 @ 9:48 am


One of the best ways to practice HOLDING a handstand is against the wall with your BELLY towards the wall… Everyone practices by kicking up with their back to the wall. The gymnastic secret is to do it with your belly to the wall. This will help keep your back flat/flatter and you can really push out through your shoulders. You will also be able to use your toes to take one foot off the wall. This will also allow you focus on your hips, core and tush. Keeping all of these tight and straight is key to holding a handstand. When in the proper position, only your toes should be touching the wall. Your gaze should be in between your hands, which should be shoulder width apart. The top of your head should be pointing to the floor. So your head should be in line with your arms and not sticking out. This also helps keep your back and hips flatter and in line with your shoulders.

To get up, you can cartwheel up from the side or start from a downward dog with your feet near/on the wall and then walk yourself up. Another thing that is nice about this is that if/when you do fall you will fall on your back which is typically what most people are afraid of when practicing off a wall. Knowing this, you may want to prop you mat from the wall so you can roll out. The safest way to come down would be cartwheeling down or pirouetting out.

Hence, the other point of why this technique is great, as you get stronger and more confident, you can practice pirouetting out by moving either your right hand or left hand over to the opposite hand, roughly shoulder width away from the hand, now having your body sideways in a handstand to the wall. A full pirouette would be two hand placements now putting your back to the wall.

Being able to pirouette when you are away from the wall is a great way of avoiding having to roll out on hard surfaces.

As for flexed feet, I would disagree. It might help some, but thousands of gymnasts are in a handstand right now with their toes pointed.

It sounds like a lot but it should help you hold a handstand.

Comment by Marc S. — July 17, 2010 @ 1:36 pm

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