Yoga Pose of the Month - March 2013 - Handstand
I love handstand. I’ve never worked so diligently on one pose despite falling over and over again, all the while maintaining a sincere enthusiasm for the work I was doing. Through that process I learned more than just the biomechanics of the pose, I learned that in order to succeed at anything in life, it takes equal parts patience and determination.
I will preface any instruction for handstand by sharing that patience is key when
practicing handstand. Know that even though progress can seem slow and can even seemingly move backwards at times, it all adds up.
To begin, either find a space in the middle of the room, or find a wall. The wall can
be a fantastic tool when beginning handstand, but can quickly become a crutch.
Once you become comfortable falling out of the pose, come to the middle of the
room. Beginning from a forward fold, place your hands on the ground shoulder-
width apart directly under your shoulders. Spread your fingers and ground down
through the knuckles, creating a firm base.
Begin your stand by lifting one leg high to the sky. Engage the leg and from this point on, imagine that someone has poured quick-drying concrete on your top leg, keeping it strong and straight. Lift the grounded heel as if you were in a pair of Stilettos. From here, press down through the hands, draw the triceps together, and engage the core. When you’re ready, start with a small hop, keeping the top leg straight. Over time, take bigger hops that give you a bit more air time. Once you find the plumb line by bringing the hips right over the shoulders, hang here first with the legs split front to back for balance. Once this begins to feel comfortable, slowly bring the legs together.
In climbing, hanging from a straight arm is preferable to hanging from a bent arm, relying on the skeleton instead of musculature. Handstand is similar in that we are working to stack the bones, with the wrists, shoulders, and hip in one line. Handstand will complement your climbing in improving balance and building strength in the upper body.
Once we understand the rules of gravity, we can begin to bend the rules, making
moves that are seemingly impossible, possible. As always, breathe and have fun