The 4 Secrets of Handstand
Handstand has been a craze of the past few years in the yoga community, and there seems to be a gap between those that can do it and those that can't. I would like to bridge that gap for some of you by giving you what I consider to be The 4 Secrets of Handstand. First I will say that there is no magic handstand pill, and there is no way around putting the time and dedication into developing the strength of your body and balance while on your hands. However, I would love to help you avoid wasting your time by directing you to the most important areas of the body to focus on in order to set you up for greater success when practicing the balance of handstand with a trained coach or teacher.
The Secrets Revealed:
1. The Hands
Lets break up the hands into two parts, the fingers, and the wrist. Developing strength and resistance in your fingers is the number 1 necessity to balance a handstand. To give you a better idea of this, stand on your feet and try and lift up your feet, just balancing on your heals. If you did it, you noticed that it was pretty challenging! Many people are balancing handstand in the heals of the palms making it a tiresome and ineffective approach. Putting more weight forward toward your fingers is the key, but being able to resist the leaning forward with the strength of your fingers is what provides the "wall" of balance.
Second, The Wrists. Every joint in the body is a place for potential movement, and when balancing a handstand, you want to minimize movement and maximize stability so that you are not struggling to balance a constant moving object! Developing wrist stability can be super challenging. For my top ten favorite strength training exercises for handstand, including wrist strengtheners, pick up the Handstand Strength Training Video Series
2. The Elbows
Perhaps one of the most hidden secrets to handstand that is not imperative to balancing a handstand but extremely helpful is the next joint up front he wrist; the Elbows! A soft rule of thumb is that when things move outward they also move downward, and when things move inward they also move upward. In the case of the elbows if you bend them outward your body will fall downward toward the ground, just like when you start in plank pose and begin doing a push up- you bend your elbow outward and the body goes downward. Strengthening your triceps specifically to hold your weight upside down can be a powerful anti gravity technique!
3. The Shoulders
The Shoulders are incredibly complex but to make it as simple as possible lets revisit the idea of stabilizing your joints. Again, a joint provides a potential place of movement in the body, and the shoulders have a large range of potential movement. The main actions to stabilize this movement and gain shoulder integrity are external rotation of the upper arm bone (humerus), and protraction
of the shoulder blades (scapula). There are many ways to strengthen these actions, and in the Handstand Strength Training Video Series I have chosen what I feel are not only the most accessible, but absolutely the most effective exercises for all levels of practitioners. Choosing exercises that not only strengthen the muscles but build your proprioception (ability to know where your body is in space without visually seeing) is important when considering where to focus your training.
4. The Core
There are many joints of the spinal column where potential movement can occur. To be clear, there is nothing wrong with movement, we definitely want mobility in our joints for our everyday life, however when approaching something like handstand we want to focus on stability. To be balanced in the body ideally we have full range of motion in our body, and we have joint integrity- the ability to be stable at anytime. So for stability in the spine in relationship to handstand we need to have strength in our abdominals, specifically the upper fibers of the abdomen. When the arms go over head, the tightness of the shoulders will tend to put the body into an arch position, making it very hard to find a straight handstand. When the back arches, you have to counter balance your weight in order to stay up. This doesn't mean you can't find balance this way, many people do but this is partly when for those people handstand is inconsistent. When you balance in an arch position, the shape of your arch will depend upon many factors, and will be different everyday, and often changes in the matter of seconds, so you are constantly having to recalibrate where the balance is. When you strengthen your core, and learn to find "straight" in your body, the balance point becomes much more predictable, and you'll be able to be in your handstand with much less stress. Just practicing crunches and sit ups will not do the trick, as they will not build intelligence in your body. Core strength for handstand is very specific and is most effective when your arms are over head. Check out The Handstand Strength Training Video Series to get what I find to be the top ten most effective strength training exercises for becoming masterful in your handstand. Pre-Order today and you can take advantage of the discounted price of $9.78, and you will get access to two more highly effective strength training exercises!