Learning how to do a handstand is a great way to challenge yourself. Handstands help improve your strength, flexibility, and balance. Mastering this pose takes time, but with drills that target its components, you’ll be able to do the pose much faster than if you practiced with no focus at all. You’ll find video lessons throughout this post that you can use on your handstand journey.
Let’s take a look at the essential components you need to master handstands.
Shoulder strength and flexibility
One of the most important things you need to do handstands in yoga is strong and flexible shoulders. Your shoulders need to be able to support your body weight, and they also need to move comfortably through a full range of motion. If your shoulders are not strong and flexible, you are at risk of injuring them. So make sure to focus on strengthening and stretching your shoulder muscles if you want to do handstands in yoga.
Poses like plank, puppy pose, and yoga pushups will help you build the strength and flexibility you need.
If you have shoulder pain or a shoulder injury, you should avoid doing handstands until your shoulder has healed.
A strong core is another key component when you are learning how to do a handstand. The core is made up of the muscles in your abdominal and lower back region. These muscles work together to stabilize your spine and trunk.
If you have a weak or tight core, you may find that you are unable to keep your body in a straight line or that you start to wobble and fall out of the handstand.
Poses like plank and navasana (boat pose) build the core strength you need for a stable handstand.
In this brief yoga class, Kino MacGregor teaches you drills to build the shoulder and core strength you need for doing your handstand.
Strength isn’t the only essential component of a handstand. You also need flexibility. Flexibility in the hips and hamstrings allows you to bring your legs up over your head and into the air. If you are not flexible, you may find it difficult to kick up into the pose.
Once you’ve fully developed your strength and you are flexible enough, you’ll be able to work on a more challenging and controlled way to enter handstand.
If you practice exercises that work on the essential components of handstands…
shoulder strength and flexibility
hip and hamstring flexibility
… with time, you’ll be able to find your handstand. In the beginning, you might have to use a wall to help yourself stay upright in the pose, but you will eventually find the control and balance you need to do the pose with no assistance at all.
Handstand isn’t just about the physical journey. When you’re learning how to do a handstand, you’re cultivating the mental strength required to fall and get back up and try again. The handstand journey is more about the person you become along the way than actually being able to do the pose.
Now that we have discussed the components of a perfect handstand let’s put them all together and practice with the short video for beginners below!
When I began practicing Yoga, the absence of a left hand compounded the weakness in my left arm during asana practice and I couldn’t complete a handstand or any other arm balance exercises for that matter. That’s when it struck me – I need a tool.
Looking retrospectively at my life’s journey over the last 46 years, I see more and more the connection between forgiveness and living the ‘beautiful life’. We all have our moments where we ‘fly off the handle’ so to speak and react impulsively, and then sometimes devolve into anger or hate. We may even allow negative emotions to fester and then we unconsciously develop a negative personality. We don’t notice it because we don’t realize how much we distract our attention with adverse situations.
A unified spiritual field, if we could call it that, reflects our inner being. Why is this so? If one follows the progressive scientific realizations of quantum mechanics, it shows up more and more that space and time don’t apparently exist. This leads to the realization that everything happens simultaneously and not spatially separated, which in turn only allows the conclusion that we are all connected and can’t actually live as entirely separate entities in a ‘vacuum’.
Almost simultaneously, on the path I began with Ashtanga Yoga in 2013, I started to intensively study the teachings of Jesus, who channeled his wisdom in a masterpiece called A Course In Miracles. This book was published the year I was born, and I take this to be a wonderful synchronicity.
Many miracles, which I actually wondered about without understanding them at first, happened. As I continued to study the wisdom of Yoga, which can be beautifully harmonized with the teachings of Jesus, as Paramahamsa Yogananda impressively demonstrates, I realized more and more why the situations, circumstances, events, and people that crossed my path were analogous to my own emotions, beliefs, and self-image in the context of existence.
Nothing happens by chance. We often just can’t make the connection and don’t recognize the connection or the lesson. And the central lesson of life is actually quite straightforward: recognize yourself. Realize that you are a reciprocal image of God and that He does not dwell outside of you. When we cultivate anger, bitterness or discontent, the universe shows us as a 3D canvas of what we have become mentally and how far we have moved away from the awareness of what we actually are. At the moment of forgiveness, we give up judging and open ourselves to the truth. Judging is the basis for suffering of any form.
Suffering arises from the mental separation from God. Yoga is one of the ways to remove this misinterpretation of oneself, but it is not the only one. Everyone has their own approach to this subject. For me, as a pragmatist, reduction to the essentials and a close observation of effects that must be reproducible is the guide through the labyrinth.
Also, even more important than the monotonous parroting of mantras, whose content I may not even understand, or the pure practice of asana, is the internalization of the pure and simple truth through extended walks in the forest in which I reflect intensely and re-evaluate the things that have happened in the hours, days or even years past through the filter of the great insights espoused by great masters in harmony with my own spiritual insights and views. Through this approach, I have successively established a completely new self-image and understanding of my role in the context of the wider world over the last few years.
What was amazing to me was the analogous change of my body. At the same time that I developed my new insights, inflammations, colds, herpes, and also disharmonious people disappeared from my life. In moments of emotional relapses into negative areas, they appeared again. More and more I controlled the impact of these outside influences on myself, as an active observer. More and more gifts came into my life and nurtured me.
One event that I believe best sums up the consequences of ignoring the truth as a co-creator in God, was when I ignored my intuition, which is a divine guide to me and all people, and had a terrifying accident that cost me my left hand. Everything was suddenly different. However, today I forgive myself. I do not regret anything, because I continue to learn and marvel. We all have the ability to do the same; it’s in our hands.
Let’s talk about Karma. The law of ‘you reap what you sow’. Divine punishment is a myth believed by the fearful. The God-fearing who do not know that they themselves are God. Forgiveness and karma are closely connected. Through forgiveness and the realignment of thoughts and feelings, all karmic entanglements can be resolved. Because only the belief in a karmic “punishment” allows such a punishment. For the principle of fear has taken hold and this is the opposite of the Greek term agape – unconditional love.
‘According to your faith be it done unto you’, is a statement from the Bible. We have the power within ourselves. If we believe in a punishing God, a punishing environment will envelop us. No asana, pranayama, or mantra chanting will alleviate this negativity. Belief, emotion, one’s paradigm, and self-image can either punish or reward.
Too many people seek salvation on the mat or by performing Pranayama. They feel comfortable and secure in a class. Inside, however, conflicting thoughts distract and their path remains sorrowful. Forgiveness and self-image adjustment – result of the true Yoga path are the tools that lead to final realization and eventually redemption.
Powerful guides help us. Synchronicities, miracles, and things literally laid at our feet are clues that show us where we stand. This is how I was guided in November 2019 when having a conversation with a dear friend with whom there was a temporary disharmony. I decided to forgive the matter and just see things relaxed without resentment and acknowledge him as part of myself. In your own environment, you must live the word, not just read it. There are too many theorists who never implement because of this-or-that legitimizes their anger.
A Course In Miracles asks the question: ‘Do you prefer that you be right or happy?’ This is an incredibly simple yet profound question. Personally, I chose happiness. Not only in difficult situations but also in general.
God wants to rejoice in each of us. He helps us to make this possible and only we can retain the ignorance that blocks the flow of happiness through our lives. I for one have experienced the strange serendipity of Karma as well; a small idea, followed by an act of forgiveness that ultimately led to life-changing ‘vision’.
When I began practicing Yoga, the absence of a left hand compounded the weakness in my left arm during asana practice and I couldn’t complete a handstand or any other arm balance exercises for that matter. That’s when it struck me – I need a tool. And so I had an idea for a new yoga block. I had this idea for several weeks before I talked to my friend. A yoga block that supported my left forearm so that I could lean against it. I designed and built the block and could finally achieve poses that weren’t accessible to me for years. Soon after, my friend and I had an argument. I chose to let it go and forgive for the sake of our friendship. Not long after that, I had a ‘vision’.
I now believe that this vision was in fact divine ‘karmic’ intervention as it led to the development of something I called ProHandstand. The device proved essential to practicing handstands or other exercises. I truly believe that an act of forgiveness between true friends led to a karmic reward that evolved into the development of a groundbreaking invention which I am presenting to the world this year. Just as my yoga block helped me to master the most challenging forms of asanas, so too does this invention now help every yogi do the same.
I have actually managed, as a yogi with one hand, to achieve what I never thought possible: The handstand. Receiving and giving are the same as we are all the one son of God and not separate beings. This invention is my gift to all yogis. Namasté
Heddies is a natural creative. He was 22 years old when he made his first invention and he loves to expresses himself through design. Heddies is a human movement specialist and contracts to private clients for custom body movement plans that improve both Asana routines and everyday life movement patterns. Heddies found Ashtanga Yoga in 2013 and has practised on a daily basis since. Yoga not only improved his flexibility and balance, but also taught him techniques that allowed him to centre his thoughts and effectively manage the stresses of daily life. Since early childhood Heddies has maintained an inquisitive attitude that allows him to explore life with an open mind. To this end, he is a keen student of Ashtanga Yoga and A Course In Miracles. Heddies founded a healing circle in 2018 following the principles of healing he has been studying over the years. By nurturing his boundless curiosity Heddies gained a deep understanding of how to convey helpful insights to those in need of spiritual guidance. Follow Heddies on Instagram @heddiesyoga and see his handstand-invention on his website, Prohandstand.com.
It took me five years before I balanced in a handstand. That’s five years of failure where I tried with all my heart and soul only to come toppling down. I wanted to quit more times than I can remember.
There so many moments that I thought my body with it’s thick thighs and short arms would never make it up. I blamed my past and wished I had been a dancer or gymnast. But there I was, staring down what felt like the impossible hurdle of a handstand and I built the strength. But… it was never about the handstand for for me.
It was always about the journey. There was a major life lesson I’m not giving up on myself. I learned what it means to put in the work and stay the course, through the ups and downs, through the good days and the bad. I learned what it means to have faith. It’s not enough to say “I believe”. You need to meet that faith with your hard work. In fact the sheer act of perseverance is a demonstration of faith. If you don’t believe in yourself, you’ll quit before you really try. But if you can find the strength to believe in yourself even amidst great failure, then you have learned one of the lessons of handstand.
It’s easy to ride the crest of success, but so much harder to pick yourself back up from failure with grace. Fall 1000 times on your journey to handstand, get up 1000 times stronger.
You are the deciding factor that makes yoga a spiritual practice. If you come to your mat and focus only on the physical, then it will be just that—glorified calisthenics or b-grade gymnastics. But, if you come to the practice with a heart yearning for spiritual knowledge, then you can use the poses as a means to grow and evolve. The quest towards wisdom begins with yourself. You get what you put into the practice. Don’t critique yoga for being a physical practice. Critique yourself if you’re making it ONLY a physical practice. I’ve always said that yoga is a physical discipline with a spiritual intention. It’s up to you to get aligned with the deeper dimension of the practice.
If, after many years of practice, you’re not growing spiritually, f you’re not a kinder person, if you don’t feel more happiness, then look closely at your own effort. This practice has survived since ancient times because of the promise of inner awakening. Yoga upholds its end of the promise. If you want to reach the true depth of the Spirit, then it’s up to you keep your end of the deal. Practice with all your heart and all your soul. Put every drop of your being into the spiritual journey. You will one day step into alignment with the grand eternal truth of all that is, and then you will be practicing yoga. Everything else up until that pivotal moment of awakening is there to prepare you for that Divine shift.
I love being a student. There is something magical about learning from a true master. While I make time to study with my yoga teacher every chance I also love to study with hand-balancing masters every chance I get. In the world of handstands there are few people who have devoted themselves to the mastery of hand-balancing than Yuval Avalon.
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It doesn't matter if you succeed at the pose, but it does matter that you try. The effort of trying will teach you valuable lessons that can transform every aspect of your life.