Exactly one year ago I decided to embark on a journey towards handstands, inspired by friends and social media who already had done this challenging year before. I knew before I started that it would be challenging, but you don't know if you've never tried yourself. I am thankful for all the diligent Handbalancers who came before me and to my teachers and friends who guided and encouraged me through this past year.
PAIN OR PLEASURE?
My hesitations before I started were: will I be pain? Or: how much will I be in pain? The fear of creating pain through an excessive practice was my biggest hurdle, because injuring myself would mean taking a break, but for how long. Would that mean 2 steps back instead of 1 step forward? Since I'm 'just' a Yogi without a gymnasts or athletic background I did not know the regime for a daily and successful handstand practice, which is why I had to come up with my own ideas plus fit that in with my daily activities and life with kids.
THE DAILY DO's AND DON'Ts
I gotta set this straight right away: I did not practice excessively from January, instead I started incorporating all there is that is relevant for handstands and that does not necessarily involve being upside down. These tips and exercises are actually quite relevant especially for beginners, like warming up properly. Warming up and preparing your body and mind for your goals is crucial and your joints are going to thank you later. The most important joints to address for handstands would be: hands/wrists, shoulders and core. Pointing your feet and engaging your legs ist not only much prettier but also more effective because it gives more stability to your alignment. I had to learn to stop planching in handstands, meaning: to stop leaning forward, which closes the shouldergirdle and causes stress on the neck (see above collage & the left Foto from 2015). This planching was mainly caused by fear and trying to stay in control; for some people the cause would be tight shoulders and/or a very tight thoracic spine. Practicing with the wall both ways: belly plus back to wall helped me gain more confidence and strength. Being at the wall also teaches you the feeling of when you're really in line so that you can recreate that feeling while kicking up in front of the wall or free standing. When practicing back to wall (see Foto below) make sure to avoid going into a banana handstand.
Are you up for the challenge? Then you really have to WANT it and make sure to practice wisely: I recommend 5-6 sessions per week, with rest days or days of active recovery when you're not feeling like hopping on your hands. For me, attending Handstand Workshops helped to understand the main principles of alignment and to get proper feedback - again and again. Practicing on your own is like doing homework. It's good to have a teacher that can look over your what you've been working on so that you don't do the same mistakes over and over again. I will keep practicing handstands and have not become tired of it all. It gets even more interesting the longer you can stay on your hands, breathe and make shapes! In case your wrists have a bad day, feel free to practice on paralettes like these: Kick Ass Paralettes.
Have fun turning your world upside down!
I documented my year of handstand on Instagram & Facebook. You can find more videos & tips for example here:
Kick Ass Yoga Videos