Guide to Handstand: Learn to Stand on Your Own Two Hands

There are yoga poses that incite true fear in many people and handstand is one of those poses. When we were young we thought nothing of putting our hands on the ground and throwing our legs and feet up into the air. It wasn’t scary to fall and we usually spent a lot of time laughing and rolling around in the grass as we attempted to balance. However, somewhere along the way we just stopped doing them. Maybe we got into other sports or we just stopped playing in the grass or maybe we were too cool for school (me for sure!).

Anyway, by the time we are grown up and find our way to a yoga class it’s highly likely that its been a decade or so since we even thought about doing a handstand. As a teacher I find it to be the pose that many people, and in my experience it is more women than men, don’t believe they are strong enoughto do. As always I go back to the yoga sutras, specifically number 48, book 2 “Yoga makes the Impossible Possible”.  I have been so fortunate as a teacher to have so many students trust me enough to let me help them up into handstand for the first time in a long time. I find it to be one of the most empowering poses because it truly does give us confidence and make us strong.

Here are my step by step directions for handstand that I teach them at my studio in Maui. Good luck and remember: you are stronger than you think you are!!
1.  Set your yoga mat up at a wall.
2. Come into downward facing dog facing with your hands shoulder width apart and your finger tips about 6 inches away from the wall.
3. Exhale all your air and look up at your hands.
4. Step one foot forward and inhale as you kick up hard with the other leg. Follow immediately with the leg that stepped forward. The spoken mantra should be One Two. One leg and then the other. If you hesitate in kicking the second leg up right away, you probably won’t make it to the wall. The trick is to look at your hands while you kick and to do it quickly : One, Two!
5. Once your feet are on the wall, look at your hands and straighten your legs.  Touch your feet together and internally rotate your legs and press them together.
6. Lift your tailbone towards your heels to lengthen your lower back.
7. Pull your ribs toward your spine and breathe freely through your nose.
8. Come down as gracefully as possible one leg at a time.
9. Do this 3-4 times and rest in Uttanasana or child’s pose between .

Be Strong!

Nicki Doane