One of my new years resolutions for this year was to learn to do a handstand.
I never learnt to do them as a child, despite loving cartwheels as much as any little girl does, for some reason handstands escaped me.
Probably because I’m quite clumsy and they require some degree of coordination and balance!
Anyway for whatever reasons I’ve decided I want to be able to do them now.
There are various ways to learn to do a handstand. I did a bit of research before setting my intention to make sure it was a realistic goal.
The 2 main methods are
- Go straight for it, preferably with a “spotter” to catch your legs and stop you flying over.
- Slowly build up to it over time using a wall
The straight for it method is one I’ve previously been on the other side of.
A few years ago some friends of mine set up mats at a party for yoga, acrobatics and the mixture known as acro-yoga. My darling niece who was about 4-5 at the time decided that nothing would do, but that she tried handstands.
Being the loving aunty that I am, I spotted for her for quite a while, catching her legs and lowering her down to great giggling.
I could tell that without me catching her legs it would have been simply a cycle of spinning over and over without ever really getting her balance.
I prefer not to have to rely on having someone there every time I want to practice as it cuts down the opportunities.
I also know that my upper body strength is not great. I am in fact a pretty weedy specimen at the best of times.
This was one of the reasons I wanted to learn something like a handstand – balancing requires quite strong muscles and trains those muscles each time you do it as you make tiny micro-adjustments.
The wall method slowly builds up your arm and shoulder strength while simultaneously getting you used to being upside down which is something most people find quite disconcerting.
How the Method Works
Start by doing a plank with your feet against the wall and your hands flat on the floor
When you can hold this for a minute you can start walking your legs up the wall – bringing your hands further back as you do so – at each stage stop when you are comfortable until you can hold it for a minute
It is important that you keep your form good while you do this – you need to either keep to a plank form with your body in a straight line, or to create an L shape by bending at the hips – this will keep your weight centred over your hands and protect your back – you DO NOT want to be curving your spine the wrong way while doing this.
Eventually you will reach the stage where your hands are very close to the wall – 12 inches away is the recommended distance I’ve seen mentioned – at this point you are no longer doing a wall plank but a wall assisted handstand!
When you can do this for a minute or so you can turn your handstand around – face the wall and kick your legs up against it.
This allows you to get used to kicking up with the safety net of the wall.
Once you have this down you can move onto learning to do a free handstand without the wall.
Before you do that you need to learn the best ways to drop out of a handstand safely, by either rolling through or doing what is known as a Pirouette Bail
I will cover those things at a later date, if its something you want to look at now please check out the link.
Progress so far
As I already do quite a lot of standard planks I have started with my feet part way up the wall.
Currently I am working on building stamina at this stage, my feet are about 4 feet up the wall and my hands probably about 3-4 feet away from it (I’ve not actually asked anyone to measure this for me so I’m estimating a little here!).
I’ve been working on this for just under a week so far, doing the wall plank once or twice a day.
I started able to hold it for just over 30 seconds. Last night I managed 42 seconds
Practice makes perfect!
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