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Handstands, like headstands, are a powerful, energising part of yoga practice. They enable us to literally see the world from a different perspective, while building tremendous strength through core, arms, legs and shoulders.

Handstands are also a playful pose that many of us enjoyed as kids. They’re a light-hearted way to defy gravity, a chance to have some fun.

For a lot of us, though, getting our adult bodies into inversions — especially handstands — is a challenge. Here are three yoga poses to help you develop the strength, balance and confidence that lead to headstand.

Downward-facing dog

Downward dog is an essential introduction to your handstand practice as it builds tremendous strength in your arms and shoulders. To get the maximum benefit ensure that when you are in the full expression you contract your outer arms and press the bases of the index fingers actively into the floor. From these two points lift along your inner arms from the wrists to the tops of the shoulders. Firm your shoulder blades against your back, then widen them and draw them toward the tailbone. This creates correct muscle alignment and builds strength.

Plank

Core strength is vital in order to have the power you need to kick into handstand and the control to maintain your balance. Practice plank pose regularly, working up from one minute to three, four or even five. When you are in plank continuously check in with yourself to ensure your belly is tight, your back firm, and your body aligned evenly over your hands. Add side plank to your practice for greater power and balance.

L-shaped handstand

Practicing L-shaped handstands against the wall prepares your body for the final expression of a full handstand. To begin, kneel on all fours with your feet flat against a wall and your shoulders stacked over your wrists. Rise into a shortened downward dog,  then bring one leg up at a time so your foot is in line with your hips and your knees  are bent. Gradually straighten your legs until your upper body is balanced on your arms. Remember to engage your abs and lift your shoulders up away from your ears. As you begin to feel confident, you can experiment with lifting alternate legs off the wall.

Questions about handstand? Ask in the comments or Tweet @YogaWithPaul

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