I’ve had a fascination with Adho Mukha Vrksasana (Handstand Pose) ever since the London 2012 Olympic Games. I watched in awe as divers balanced on their hands on the edge of their platforms, 5 and 10 metres above the pool. That’s handstand. That’s yoga! [SEE VIDEOS BELOW]
Ever since those awesome images last summer, I have wanted to be able to “float up” into a handstand. To possess that kind of strength and coordination.
My goal is to float up into handstand by the end of July 2013, 12 months after seeing the best divers in the world perform it. Sounds reasonable, right? Well, I’m getting there, and loving the journey.
I already teach my students the component parts of handstand against the wall. But I look forward to gaining new knowledge from doing a graceful handstand in the centre of the room, and then being able to teach from that level. Watch for “Part 2” of this how-to blog…coming this fall?
Here are some poses you can work on to build your handstand practice. I definitely recommend finding a handstand workshop at a studio near you…always a lot of fun, and newbies are generally welcome. Contact me if you like.
For Shoulder Flexibility
- Downward dog, L-Pose, Mountain with arms raised, Bound/Gomukasana arms, Donkey Kicks, hopping your feet forward (with control) during Sun Salutations, Urdhva Dhanurasana
For Strong Arms
- Downward dog on fingertips, Dolphin, arm balances, Side Plank, taking lots of “Flow Yoga” classes
For A Strong Core
- A steady, consistent yoga practice in general, keeping the belly pressing in when exercising, “Core Flow” targeted yoga classes, Extended Triangle Pose, Plank, Navasana, Pilates, Swiss ball, crunches, and lots of variety in your core/abs routine
To Stay Calm
- Practice being upside down in simpler inversions like Standing Forward Fold and Wide-Legged Forward Fold, Dolphin, Headstand against a wall, Ujjayi breathing, meditation, saying nice things to yourself when you’re feeling afraid
- Side Plank, Half Moon, Revolved Half Moon, closing your eyes during Tree Pose (or Eagle!), Prayer Twist from High Lunge
Thanks for reading, and allowing me to share something I love. Now get upside down!
Update (2016): STILL not floating up into handstand! But one day it will happen. I’m not racing toward this particular goal anymore, but my strength is returning; my yoga practice became intermittent in 2015 but I’m back on track now.
>>> Handstand from Wide-Legged Forward Fold (Prasarita Padottanasana)
>>> Handstand from Standing Forward Fold (Uttanasana)
Special thanks to Leslie Kaminoff and Amy Matthews for the graphic.