Learning The Handstand

Tuesday, 04/17/2018

The handstand is a lot of fun, and it can have some serious benefits for your core and shoulders. The  following tips will assist you with your handstand.

Note: If you don't have healthy, mobile shoulders and a strong core you should not attempt a handstand. 


Building from the Ground Up

Start slow. First get comfortable balancing on your hands in a position that's less intimidating to fall from. A precursor to the handstand is the yoga pose called the crow. This gets you comfortable putting weight on your hands and learning to balance without the risk of falling very far.

  1. Squat down and place your palms approximately shoulder-width apart on the floor.
  2. Wrap your knees around your triceps and squeeze your arms with your legs.
  3. Engage your core by pulling your abdomen towards your spine.
  4. Shift your weight onto your hands, keeping your head up.
  5. Bring your feet together.


Once you get comfortable at crow it's time to invert (go upside down). A great place to start is the headstand.


The Headstand

This movement gets you used to being upside down. The tripod method is the easiest for people new to the movement. (Do not attempt this if you have a neck injury.)

  1. Rest your head on the floor with your hands at shoulder width.
  2. Place your knees on top of your elbows. Make sure your elbows run parallel to each other.
  3. Slowly lift one leg off your knee and take your foot up in the air vertically.
  4. Bring the other leg on the knee up towards the leg that's lifted.
  5. Keep your elbows tight to assist with balance.



The Kick Up

When you first practice kicking up, begin next to a wall. Think of your leg as a long lever and try to smoothly lift your leg off the floor. Land against the wall as lightly as possible.

Make sure your core is engaged, your elbows are straight, and you're pressing hard into the ground. Think of pressing yourself away from the floor. When you first practice the kick up, start out in a "downward facing dog" and kick up against a wall. This will let you focus on a spot on the floor without getting disoriented from the up/down motion of trying to kick up from a standing position.

  1. Place palms shoulder-width apart.
  2. From downward dog, begin walking your feet forward towards your palms.
  3. Shift your weight into your palms and lift your back leg up towards the wall.
  4. Push down into the floor keeping your core engaged and your elbows straight.
  5. Find the wall with the leg that's kicking up and bring your other leg to meet it.

Once your butt and legs are against the wall, use these cues to find balance:

  1. Press down firmly through the palms, keeping the elbows straight.
  2. Pull your belly button towards your spine to engage your core.
  3. Point your toes up towards the ceiling.


Remove One Leg at a Time

Once you have found your center against the wall, you will be ready to start moving away from it. Begin by removing one leg from the wall. Once you find your balance, slowly bring your other leg to meet the first.



When first attempting this, you are going to feel unsteady. Remember to press hard through the palms, keep your core engaged, and your elbows straight to help you find balance.  Once you start to control your kick up and can find balance away from the wall, you can start practicing your freestanding handstand.