Handstands

I will load each week’s content below in the tabs. The most current week will show first in blue, but you’ll be able to click the boxes in grey beside the blue tab to view previous content.

Let’s move and breathe together this week! My new 58-minute class will work your core, open your hamstrings, and move you through a strong flow without bearing weight in your shoulders or wrists. Click here to go to my website for the class.

Yes, I know it’s Handstand month, but we all need an upper body break every now and then…especially if you’ve been working on your Handstands. I must admit, this sequence is one of my favorites! I also must admit, my microphone went out a few times, so I recorded my voice after the fact in a few spots. =)

Do you want to get stronger and work your way to a Handstand (or an even stronger Handstand)? Check out my Week 1 and Week 3 Inspirations. Click here to to go my website for these quick cues and tips.

Enjoy this week of beautiful weather! Take advantage and maybe enjoy your practice outdoors!

One inspiring cue:


Once you are up in your Handstand, create a small tuck of the pelvis.

Why? You will rarely hear me cue to “tuck the tailbone” in any pose. But, Handstand is one of the rare poses where this cue comes in handy for stabilization.

Yuval Avalon is a circus artist and gymnast, who is one of the most sought-after Handstand trainers in the world. He believes, “when you rotate your pelvis it encourages both an activation of the pelvic floor and the lower abdominal muscles. Holding the pelvis in a posterior tilt also flattens the lower back and minimizes the ‘banana’ shape in Handstands that can dump weight into the lower back. Rotating the pelvis also encourages awareness around the center of gravity, which is one of the most efficient places to initiate movement from.”

What else helps ease the transition into a stable Handstand? Opening your hamstrings!!

 

One inspiring tip:

Yuval also has his students practice against a wall, with their back facing the wall. He then instructs them to slightly bend the knees and point the toes (see pic above). With the help of the wall, and with the knees bent, you can better practice the slight rotation of the pelvis.

In addition to using the picture to understand this tip, you can also read this week’s Favorite Find. Kino MacGregor wrote a short blog on her training with Yuval and further explains his methods and advice for Handstand. Click here or on the image above to go to my web site for her blog.

In addition to using the picture to understand this tip, you can also read this week’s Favorite Find. Kino MacGregor wrote a short blog on her training with Yuval and further explains his methods and advice for Handstand.

One inspiring song:

“Shore” by Balmorhea

One inspiring quote:

“Namaste: I honor the place in you in which the entire universe dwells. I honor the place in you which is of love, of truth, of light, and of peace. When you are in that place in you and I am in that place in me, we are one.”

I believe this is always a good quote to come back to…especially now.

 

Are you working on your Handstand? I have a 17-minute practice for you this week that will prep you for Handstand by making your hamstrings feel long and strong!

I received quite a few emails letting me know how much the Favorite Find video from last week helped! In case you missed it, click here or on the image below to find it on my website.

Taking the time to stretch your hamstrings before you float into Handstand can make a big difference. Why? If you are someone who kicks up (really, you are striving to lift into a Handstand without having to kick too much), it is much easier to balance with your legs separated. Think of a tightrope walker – they use a long stick to help with balance. With Handstand, your legs act like the stick! You want to be far enough away from the wall so that when you slowly kick up (I like to think of this as a slow motion movement), you don’t slam the leg you’re kicking up with into the wall. The more warmed up your hamstrings are, the easier it will be to separate them and use them as your “balancing stick”.

I made a 20-second video to show you how to work on coming into Handstand. Begin close to the wall and little by little move yourself back. You’ll know what I mean when you watch the video.

Student and yogi Bob Bernstein, who recently graduated yoga teacher training, sent me an email with this to say about the importance of hamstring opening in Handstand:

“For me, I think I had to wait until my legs totally opened up to even think about the pose effectively…so I see you are doing hamstrings. I can’t stress that enough. More forward folds both on and off the mat to open, lengthen, and then straighten the legs, particularly the backs of the legs.”

I couldn’t agree more! As I told him, my goal is to introduce one tip a week so that at the end of the month, you can weave together the tips and cues that work for you. Hamstring opening helps!! So, make sure to check out this week’s video to lengthen and strengthen those hamstrings and see if that helps your Handstand!

Speaking of cues, Bob also mentioned last week’s cue to press firmly through the hands when in Handstand. To review this cue, click here to go to my website for the Week 1 Favorite Cue. He provided some good feedback/perspective on this, which I also want to share with you as it may be helpful:
“You mentioned pressing into your hands and I prefer to think of Handstands as ‘pressing up’ and I hate the notion of ‘kicking up’. It sends the wrong message. Although I often get some momentum from my standing leg, the real way for me to find balance is in stillness. And that means one full singular unit – arms straight, legs straight, core engaged, then PRESS into the hands. That engages all those muscles to gently press up. For years, I heard ‘kick up to Handstand’ and I felt like hopping my leg up and hoping I’d find balance when, actually, that is way harder.”

My response was that I’ve been trying for 25 years to float/press into a Handstand, and I don’t think it’s going to happen in this lifetime. Whether it be a strength thing, or a proportion thing, I just can’t float up! However, he has a good point: try not to think of approaching your Handstand as “kicking” into it. Instead, slow down, use as much strength as possible, and lift one leg at a time.

Use the rest of the cues and tips I share with you this month to help you. I’ll be posting additional tips on my Instagram page throughout the month as well.

I realize this is a lot to digest, so take your time and, as always, go at your own pace!

One inspiring cue:

As you kick up into your Handstand, push your hands into the floor as if you intended to send them through the earth.

If you’re not kicking up into Handstand yet, try starting in Downdog and slowly walk your feet in towards your hands, one footprint at a time. As your feet come closer to your hands, push into your hands with the intention of sending them into the earth. With this pressing action, you should feel a lightness in your feet, which is great prep work for Handstand!

Why?
A key concept to remember when practicing Handstand is to create engagement throughout the whole body. The above cue may seem obvious, but you’ll be surprised how much more stability this can create in the pose. If the base of the pose isn’t strong (in this case, your hands and arms), you will not be effectively supported when you are upside down.

For a few other helpful tips, check out this week’s Favorite Find. Briohny Smyth provides some great insight into Handstand that may make the difference in kicking up with control vs. flailing as you attempt to go upside down.

One inspiring tip:

If you have trouble keeping your arms straight in your Handstand, place a yoga strap around your arms, just above your elbows and shoulder-width apart.

Thank you for the photo, Emily Stern

Even if you can keep your arms straight, using the strap like this can give you more power in the pose. Try it! Need a strap? Head over to my Linktree on Instagram, where I have links to yoga accessories I love.

One inspiring song:

“Shore” by Balmorhea

One inspiring quote:

“Namaste: I honor the place in you in which the entire universe dwells. I honor the place in you which is of love, of truth, of light, and of peace. When you are in that place in you and I am in that place in me, we are one.”

I believe this is always a good quote to come back to…especially now.

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