Prep Properly: Stick Your Handstand!

March 20, 2018

So you've made it past the fear of falling when kicking up, but you can't quite get the handstand to stay in place. Worry no more! Practice these compound movements and see your feet fly.

 

Basics of Handstand:

  • Strong shoulders

  • Strong core

  • Open chest

  • Open hamstrings

 

Before you begin working on these prep poses, go through 3-5 slow and controlled Sun Salutations.

 

Prep Poses

  • Down Dog <-> Plank

     

    • Hold Down Dog for 5 deep breaths

    • Shift forward into plank & hold for 5 deep breath

    • Shift back and forth keeping the front ribs pulled in & low belly pulled in and up

  • Down Dog <-> Forward Fold

     

    • From Down Dog, come onto your tippy toes and send your hips higher to the sky.

    • Shift your weight forward (still keeping hips elevated) so your shoulders are over your wrists. From here slowly tip toe your feet toward your hands, again keeping the hips as elevated as possible and the belly pulled in toward the spine the entire time.

    • From forward fold, release your heels. Do 10 calf raises from here, feeling the weight shift into the hands with the shoulders stacked over the wrists. Press firmly through the fingertips and gaze slightly forward past the hands. This will give you the same alignment in handstand in your upper body. Tune in. Notice how this feels.

    • Tip toe back to Down Dog the same way you came in. Repeat 5-10 times.

  • Warrior 3 <-> Standing Splits

    • You can enter Warrior 3 from Warrior 1 or just from standing. Warrior 3 is essentially an L-shaped handstand, so the alignment should match.

    • Keep the hips square to the earth. For instance, if the right leg is lifted, the right hip should drop, and the right toes should point straight down towards the earth. Also, the low belly will want to drop, causing the lower back to sway. Keep the belly pulled in tight, and again the front ribs pulled in too.

    • If you can, keep the arms outstretched, so the biceps are next to the ears, and roll the shoulders outward and down – as if you’re closing off your armpits to the outside world.

    • Hold Warrior 3 for 5 full breaths. On an exhale, release the hands/fingertips to the earth as you send the lifted leg high to the sky coming into Standing Splits.

    • Focus on the spine lengthening, and the center of the chest reaching down toward the toes instead of bringing the nose to the knee. Hold here for 5 breaths.

    • Come back to where you started, Warrior 1 or standing. Repeat 5 times.

  • Blanket Slides

    • Come to a smooth floor (pretty much anything besides carpet) with a folded blanket or towel. Place your feet on the blanket/towel and your hands on the floor in a forward fold.

    • Pressing into the hands, slide your feet and the blanket/towel back until you come into a plank. Hold for a breath.

    • As you exhale, slide the feet on the blanket/towel back up into the forward fold.

    • Keep the core engaged!

    • Repeat 5 times.

  • L-Shaped Handstand at the Wall

    • Start in Down Dog with the heels against the wall. Slowly walk the feet up until they are in line with the hips. The hips, shoulders, and wrists should also be in line.

    • You should feel the shoulders externally rotated with the triceps wrapping in toward the face and the biceps rolling out (just like in Down Dog). Feel the ribs knit together as the front body pulls in toward the back body.

    • Press into the fingertips – really grip the earth, and gaze slightly pass the fingertips – this will help with balance.

    • Hold for as many breaths as you can. If you are comfortable enough here, you can practice lifting one leg so it’s in line with your upper body – the same shape you were in for Warrior 3 – and then switching legs.

 

I don’t recommend so much using the wall as support for kicking up into handstand normally because you end up swaying your back too much so your feet are past your hips. When you practice kicking up away from the wall, you can feel the proper alignment.

 

Always give yourself a Child’s Pose and/or Savasana at the end of your practice!

 

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