The other day Maggie @orbeaborealis asked me, “how long did it take before I could safely get into and hold a handstand.”
This is an excellent question because we often assume things come quickly to people with specific skills. I thought I would break down my handstand timeline with tips for anyone interested in working at getting a strong version of one. I’ve been practicing yoga for eight years, and learning to get a strong handstand was a prolonged process. Some people may be more adept than I was. If you can quickly synthesize the body and physical balance information.
Visit my youtube.com/michelleyogogirls to watch other workout videos and learn arm balance transitions
I took tumbling classes. I never had a solid handstand back then, but it taught me that I liked to arm balance and the fundamental movements. I gave up tumbling around age 15 – IDK I was a teenager…
Year one of yoga (I started at age 42)
I had taken other stretching yoga classes in the past but never felt that it was my thing because I was more into running and cardio sports. I landed in one of Kim’s @kimwinnyoga classes and was hooked. She always has a great way of making her class fun, entertaining, and super challenging, which I love. Anywho this was my first go at working on handstands, inverting, and arm balancing in over 20 years.
I kept practicing every day and also took some workshops with other amazingly talented handstand teachers. The good thing about this is everyone teaches you something a bit different, and everything builds on itself.
Yes, it took me about 3.5 years to finally hold a handstand for more than 5 seconds in the middle of the room. There are so many things that go into holding a handstand.
- Try practicing at a wall or with a friend spotting you at first but don’t become dependent on those things.
- Arm, wrist, and shoulder strength – when you are up, push as hard as you can to get your arms super straight.
- Core strength – You need to pull your core in like you are a board. Have a friend take a picture of you, and if you look like a banana, work on tilting your hips in.
- The way your fingers and palm help you balance. Spread your fingers wide and use your fingertips and the bottom of your palm to grip the floor, This is how you balance by tilting back and forth. This helps you with balancing.
- Use your hips to balance you when you are upside down by tilting them in and out.
- When you kick up, put one knee to your chest, so you don’t tumble over. This allows you to feel your boundaries safely.
- Falling – Work on cartwheeling out of a handstand not to injure yourself or others in a class. Just start to walk your hands if you feel like you are falling.
- Straightening your legs as strong as you possibly can when you are upside down. I sometimes hook my feet, and that helps my stability.
- Be in control of your body. Go as slow as you can and use your core to pull you up. Try not to flail and kick up fast.
Thanks to Christine, @acrounicorn and Brandi @awaken_adornments taught me the movements to get my press handstand. Press handstands also require a very good forward fold.
- Start in forward fold feet together.
- Cat-back as you press into your hands, leaning forward as far as you can comfortably go. At first, I felt like I was going to fall over.
- Come up onto your toes and quickly shoot your legs out to the sides and up.
- Don’t forget to use your fingertips, the palm of your hand, and hips to balance you.
I’m still working on my handstands every day. Some days are better than others. Remember, it’s a practice, and try not to get frustrated. Over time you will see results and build body confidence.
A couple additional thoughts
- You can also try cartwheeling into a handstand as an extra challenge.
- If you want to float down into chaturanga, always be sure to bend your elbows as you are going down. This is another fun skill you can work on. Even if you don’t have a handstand, you can still kick up halfway and bend your elbows to float down. This also gets you comfortable with eventually getting into a handstand
Email me at michelle@yogogirls with questions