Handstand Fun: Why You Should Get Upside Down in Yoga
Yoga & Meditation Teacher
Vanessa is a Bondi-based Austrian expat and yoga teacher. Encouraging self-discovery, she likes to guide yogis through invigorating vinyasa classes that are playful and undogmatic, or meditative yin classes that allow students to unwind and let go. Beyond the physical benefits, her intention is to empower students to connect to their breath, tap into awareness, and simply be present.
It seems to be the yogi’s ultimate goal: Adho Mukha Vrksasana, the handstand. Nothing looks more impressive than people balancing on their hands, or defying gravity in all the different inversions the yoga practice has to offer. However, handstands are so much more than something to show off at the park or outdoor gym. Even if you’re not quite there yet – or far away from mastering it – this practice offers many physical and mental benefits.
When I started my yoga journey a few years ago, I had this dream. This dream of being able to turn my world upside down and balance on my hands. I know, I know – one of the fundamental teachings of yoga is non-attachment, and if there’s one thing the practice has taught me over the years, it’s being able to honour the effort regardless of the outcome. So once I realised that floating up into a handstand gracefully wasn’t going to happen overnight and it would involve a lot of consistent practice, I was going through the ’I don’t need to do handstands in order to be a good yogi’ phase. I have since learned to cultivate a more relaxed, playful attitude towards inversions and hand-balancing, but I still love practicing them. Here’s why.
Curiosity & Playfulness
Remember as kids, when you were rolling around outside, doing cartwheels and backflips in your yard? The reason why your 8-year old self was doing that and your adult self isn’t, probably doesn’t have much to do with your physical fitness. It’s the fact that you were fearless. As kids, we see life through different eyes, tackling everything with a sense of curiosity – and fun!
Full Body Workout
That doesn’t mean that if only you’re brave enough, you’ll be able to stand on your hands. On a physical level, there are obviously many, many boxes to be ticked when it comes to hand-balancing, considering that pretty much every part of the body is involved: The fingers, wrists, arms, shoulders, back, core, pelvis, legs and feet. If handstands are your goal, there is a lot of strengthening and mobility work to do. You are basically re-programming your entire body to be able to balance upside down.
The greater challenge for me though was always the mental one. Dropping the fear of falling, honouring the process and celebrating each tiny baby step. Continuously gathering the courage to try again and again, even though maybe last time I fell on my face or I couldn’t get any airtime at all. Every time I have to tell myself: Just get over it. Being a beginner at something is a beautifully humbling experience, and my hand-balancing practice never fails to humble me.
Focus & Persistence
Practicing challenging postures like handstands requires every little bit of your attention and focus. Sure, yoga is a practice of presence of awareness in itself, but how many times have you found yourself thinking about your to-do list while doing five breaths in downward-facing dog, because you are so familiar with this pose? I know I have countless times. In a handstand however, my mind is so busy coordinating every part of my body, that I have no mental capacity for letting the thoughts wander off. It’s like all your attention is focused, like a laser pointer, to your fingertips gripping the ground, or your pelvis tilting slightly, or your foot counterbalancing up in the air. A constant exploration and expansion of my physical and mental limitations.
Lastly, no handstand without practice, practice, and more practice. One of the main reasons why I admire anyone who masters the art of hand-balancing is not because I find the pose itself so impressive, but because I know that they have put in a lot of time, discipline and work to get there.
Want to learn more?
In case you want to start your handstand practice or take it to the next level, check out our handstand workshop held by Olivia every last Sunday of the month! She will show you some effective drills & exercises to prepare you for or improve your handstand and will help you overcome your fear of being upside down.
We can’t wait to see you there!
Follow Vanessa on Instagram
AcroYoga is an awe-inspiring blend of acrobatics, yoga, and partner work that challenges your...
What is acroyoga? AcroYoga is a dynamic and engaging practice, often performed in pairs or groups,...
Change is the only constant - Heraclitus You have heard it in the past; the only constant in life...