Going Upside Down: Handstands

handstandsI love all inversions, being upside down is a special feeling –even if you are poorly aligned. But finding the alignment of tadasana in any of the four major inversions; headstands, shoulderstands, forearm stands, and the subject of the next bunch of posts, handstands— is an amazing feeling of weightlessness as the bones stack correctly and the muscles engage by choice instead of necessity.

Going upside down can also be very scary. Watching someone who is afraid of handstands go through the ritual of the pose— down dog , move toward plank, step one foot in, lift the other leg up—and then to see some invisible force bear down and stop forward progress is a powerful thing to witness. Tight shoulders, a tight upper back and a weak core are other reasons that someone might have difficulty getting up in the pose.

The first video above is worth watching for the fun of it but pause @ :30 to watch his press handstand. See his shoulders move past his wrists in order to get elevation. Then watch the second video which is just silly but you will see how when these girls can’t get up it is because their shoulders don’t go forward enough.

The basic mechanics of handstands are fairly straightforward. Forward motion is essential though it is easier said than done, especially when fear is involved. To get up into a handstand your shoulders have to move past your wrists. It doesn’t matter if you are going up slowly like the guy in the video or throwing yourself at the wall from downward dog—the mechanical requirements are the same– the shoulders have to move forward of the wrists before ultimately moving back more in line with the wrists and the hips.

There are numerous aforementioned obstacles preventing this magic from happening- tight shoulders and/or back, weak core, fear- but the first thing I am looking at with any new student is the willingness to move forward. I will cover other aspects of the handstand in the near future. For now, pay attention to how you go up. What do your shoulders to in the pose?

The final video is very cool. His ability to deepen his groins and get his legs back in line with the hips from :55 – 1:10 is very impressive.


Cactus at the wall: Latissimus Dorsi Test
Stand your ground.