Being able to handstand has been a dream of mine for years. When I started practicing yoga 3 years ago, I began to regularly practice handstands against the wall. I felt that with enough practice, I would be able to handstand away from the wall soon.
Well, three years went by and I was still using the wall. It made me feel safe. Sometimes I would step away from the wall, but I was so used to it being there, that I was unbalanced and always falling backward. I became so comfortable falling backward, I wasn’t afraid of falling anymore. Yet, I still couldn’t handstand.
Then I got some amazing advice that changed everything!!
My sister watched me handstand and she told me I was setting myself up for failure, I was handstanding just to fall backward, because I was used to having the wall there. My sister has only done 5 yoga classes in her life. I took her to her very first class, where she was able to do a headstand at her first try. This past weekend, I showed her crow pose, which I’m able to hold for a few seconds. Well, I explained to her how to do Bakasana and she held it for over 20 seconds, her first try. She has amazing core strength, body awareness and control. She gave me amazing advice and I realized this advice was applicable to more than just handstands, read on.
Stop setting yourself up for failure
I was relying on the wall for so long, and then I became so comfortable with falling back, that I was throwing myself up, just to fall back. It’s true, I was setting myself up to fail. Which brings us to our next piece of advice.
Believe you can, and you will
Instead of going up just to come down, go up and stay up. She told me to reach my legs upward toward the sky, instead of over back towards the ground. She said to go up into a handstand because I can! Wow it made so much sense and when I tried it, it worked! All I had to do was go up with the intention of holding a handstand instead of having the intention of falling over.
Be mindful of your body
You would think this was obvious for me since that’s what I’m all about, but I realized I was going from standing, to throwing myself up into an unsteady handstand. She taught me to go up slowly and with control. I explained that there was so much going on in my head that it was hard to even know what was happening. So she told me to break it down, step by step. First placing the arms on the ground, then engaging my core, and slowly kick one leg up and steady the hips and then reaching with all my energy upwards.
In the past 4 days, I have made more progress than in the past 3 years. Today I held a handstand for 5 whole seconds. For months I’ve been practicing handstands almost every day with terrible form. This is what’s going on in my mind now while I’m practicing with good form. In this order as I’m doing it:
Arms: placing them on the ground, slightly wider than shoulder width, keeping elbows slightly bent.
Core: squeeze the core with all my might as I send my first leg up
Hips: keep hips level with each other as I send my second leg up
Reach: the entire body is engaged and reaching up, pointing the toes
I am beyond excited about this progress. I’ve done hundreds on handstands in the past 4 days, it’s all I want to do. I’ve even applied these tips to my forearm balance and for the first time, I can hold a steady and strong forearm stand with my legs together. I can’t wait for more progress and for other variations and transitions.
Have you tried a handstand? Is it a goal for you? Tell me what you think.