Yoga handstands are a challenging and exhilarating pose that many beginners are eager to master. Not only do handstands require a strong core and upper body strength, but they also demand focus, balance, and confidence.
If you’re a beginner looking to explore this exciting pose, it’s essential to have a solid foundation and a step-by-step approach to building your skills.
In this article, we will provide a comprehensive guide to help you master yoga handstands, including tips for developing your strength, alignment, and mental focus, as well as common mistakes to avoid. With our help, you’ll be mastering the yoga handstand in no time!
What Is A Yoga Handstand?
Let’s first take a quick look at what exactly a yoga handstand is, as it differs slightly from your everyday handstand.
A yoga handstand, also known as Adho Mukha Vrksasana in Sanskrit, is a challenging yoga pose that involves balancing your body on your hands whilst in an upside-down position.
It is an advanced yoga posture that requires a combination of strength, flexibility, balance, and concentration.
In a yoga handstand, your palms are placed on the ground, and your body is lifted towards the ceiling, with your legs extended straight up towards the sky.
This pose is not only physically demanding but also mentally challenging, as it requires a strong sense of focus and concentration to maintain balance.
Mastering a yoga handstand is a significant accomplishment for any yogi, and it can help to improve your overall strength, balance, and confidence both on and off the mat.
Muscle Warm-Ups For A Yoga Handstand
Warming up the muscles is crucial before attempting a yoga handstand to prevent injury and improve your performance. The following muscles should be warmed up before practicing a yoga handstand.
The wrist flexors are responsible for flexing the wrist joint and supporting the weight of your body in a handstand.
Warming up the wrist flexors with gentle wrist circles, wrist stretches, and wrist rotations can help to prevent injury and prepare your wrists for weight-bearing exercises.
The shoulders play a significant role in stabilizing the upper body in a handstand. Warming up the shoulders with arm circles, shoulder stretches, and shoulder rotations can help to improve your range of motion and prevent shoulder injuries.
The core muscles, including the rectus abdominis, obliques, and transverse abdominis, help to stabilize the body and maintain balance in a handstand.
Warming up the core muscles with planks, crunches, and other core exercises can help to activate and engage these muscles before attempting a handstand.
Glutes and Hamstrings
The glutes and hamstrings help to lift the legs up towards the sky in a handstand. Warming up these muscles with lunges, squats, and hamstring stretches can help to improve your flexibility and prevent injury during the pose.
How To Do A Yoga Handstand
You should now be all warmed up and ready to get started on your yoga handstand! Let’s go through the steps you need to take to perform one without doing yourself an injury.
1. Warm Up
We already mentioned this above, but it is so crucial to always remember to warm up! Make sure to warm up the aforementioned areas, such as the wrists and abdominals.
Some basic yoga poses that work well for a yoga handstand warm-up includes the downward dog, the plank, and sun salutations.
2. Prepare Your Space
This is another step that might not feel like a necessity, but without the proper space, you are much more likely to hurt yourself or be unable to properly perform your handstand.
Choose a clear and open space, preferably with a wall nearby that you can use for support if needed. Remove any obstacles or distractions that could interfere with your practice.
3. Get Into Position
Start in a downward dog position with your hands shoulder-width apart and your feet hip-distance apart.
Then, walk your feet towards your hands, and slowly shift your weight forward onto your hands. Your hands should be shoulder-width apart, and your fingers should be spread wide for better stability.
4. Set Your Foundation
Press your hands firmly into the ground, engaging your fingers and knuckles to create a stable base. Engage your core muscles by drawing your navel towards your spine, and lifting your hips up toward the ceiling.
5. Kick Up
Start to kick one leg up toward the ceiling while keeping the other leg on the ground. As you kick up, use your core muscles to lift your hips and both legs off the ground, bringing them up toward the wall. Keep your gaze focused on the ground to maintain balance.
6. Find Balance
Once you are in the handstand position, engage your core, and focus on balancing your weight evenly between your hands and shoulders. Keep your legs straight and engaged, pointing your toes towards the ceiling.
Hold the pose for a few breaths, and then slowly lower your legs down to the ground.
7. Use The Wall If Necessary
If you’re having trouble balancing, you can use a wall for support. Start by standing with your back to the wall, and place your hands on the ground shoulder-width apart. Kick one leg up and place your foot against the wall, then kick your other leg up to join it.
Walk your feet up the wall until your body is in a straight line, and hold the pose for a few breaths.
8. Keep Practicing
Yoga handstands require consistent practice and patience. Start with using a wall or a spotter for support, and gradually work towards doing the pose unsupported.
With regular practice, you’ll improve your strength, balance, and confidence!
Yoga Handstand Progression
If you are struggling with getting to the level of yoga where you are able to perform a yoga handstand, there are ways that you can gradually build towards it.
Here are a few yoga poses that can help you work towards achieving a full yoga handstand.
We briefly mentioned this pose earlier, as it is a pose that is needed to start off your handstand. It is also well suited as a training pose to start working your way up to a yoga handstand.
Begin in a downward dog pose, with your hands shoulder-width apart and your feet hip-distance apart. Press your hands firmly into the ground and lift your hips towards the ceiling.
Stand facing a wall and place your hands on the ground shoulder-width apart, a few inches away from the wall. Walk your feet up the wall until your body is in an L-shape, with your feet resting against the wall and your hands on the ground.
Focus on engaging your core and pressing firmly into your hands to maintain balance.
From the wall walk, lower your forearms to the ground, shoulder-width apart, and parallel to each other. Press your forearms into the ground and lift your hips towards the ceiling, creating an inverted V-shape. Hold the pose for a few breaths.
From the dolphin pose, shift your weight forward, and come into a plank position. Your shoulders should be directly over your elbows, and your core should be engaged. Hold the pose for a few breaths.
From the dolphin plank, lower your head to the ground and interlace your fingers behind your head. Walk your feet towards your head and lift your legs towards the ceiling, coming into a supported headstand.
Make sure to keep your core engaged and your elbows shoulder-width apart.
From a supported headstand, slowly lower one leg down towards the ground, coming into a half-handstand. Make sure to keep your core engaged and your hips lifted.
Remember to always listen to your body and never force yourself into a pose. Take your time, be patient, and enjoy the process of learning and growing in your yoga practice.
With consistent practice and patience, you’ll be able to work towards achieving a full yoga handstand.
Common Mistakes With Yoga Handstands
As with all yoga poses and practices, there are plenty of mistakes that beginners are prone to. Let’s take a look at them, so you can actively avoid them in the future.
Lack of Warm Up
Lack of warm-up is one of the common mistakes that beginners make when attempting yoga handstands. Properly warming up the body is crucial to prevent injury and to prepare the muscles and joints for the demands of the pose.
It’s important to warm up the shoulders, wrists, and core muscles before attempting any inversion.
Improper alignment is a common mistake that beginners make when attempting a yoga handstand. Proper alignment is essential for maintaining balance and stability in the pose and for preventing injury.
Here are some tips to help you achieve proper alignment in a yoga handstand.
- Place your hands shoulder-width apart on the ground, with your fingers spread wide.
- Stack your shoulders directly over your wrists, keeping your arms straight.
- Engage your core muscles and keep your body in a straight line from your wrists to your hips.
- Keep your gaze between your hands to help maintain balance.
- Focus on pressing firmly into your hands to activate your shoulder and arm muscles.
- Keep your legs straight and engaged, with your toes pointed towards the ceiling.
- Avoid arching your back or collapsing your shoulders.
- Practice against a wall or with a partner to help you maintain proper alignment and to build confidence in the pose.
Remember to take your time and focus on achieving proper alignment in each step of the handstand progression. With consistent practice and attention to alignment, you’ll be able to achieve a safe and stable yoga handstand.
Overarching The Back
Overarching the back can put unnecessary strain on the lower back and make it difficult to maintain balance. Focus on keeping your core engaged, and your hips stacked over your shoulders.
Not Engaging The Legs
Engaging the legs is essential for maintaining balance in a handstand. Make sure to keep your legs straight and engaged, with your toes pointed towards the ceiling.
Not Using The Wall
Using a wall can help beginners build strength and confidence in their handstand practice. Not utilizing a wall can make it difficult to find balance and lead to frustration.
Rushing The Practice
Trying to rush the practice and achieve a handstand too quickly can lead to injury and setbacks. Take your time, practice consistently, and focus on building strength and stability in your body.
Yoga handstands can be an exciting and challenging addition to your yoga practice. However, as a beginner, it’s important to take the time to properly warm up, focus on proper alignment, and avoid common mistakes such as overarching the back.
With consistent practice and patience, you can build the strength and confidence needed to achieve a safe and stable yoga handstand. Remember to listen to your body, take breaks when needed, and celebrate your progress along the way.
With dedication and perseverance, you’ll be able to master this challenging pose and take your yoga practice to new heights!