Learn how to perfect a handstand and you’ll see your strength and balance quickly improve. Here’s everything you need to know before taking to two hands.
For many of us – even those of us who used to do them all the time in the park as kids – the idea of doing a handstand can be absolutely terrifying. But the benefits of practicing a strong handstand are enough to make any novice want to perfect it. Handstands build core-strength, increase balance, improve blood circulation and boost mood – making them the perfect way to start a day by incorporating them into a yoga routine, or even to end an energising workout with.
And we’re here to prove that pretty much anyone can learn how to do one, with some hard work and practice.
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What are the benefits of doing handstands?
Doing a handstand requires you to stabilise abs to keep from falling over, while strengthening hip flexors, thigh muscles, arm muscles and spinal muscles. Balance is maintained and improved by controlling these muscles for anything over a second. Because of the upside down positions, blood circulation increases in the upper body while relieving pressure on feet and legs.
By repeating handstands on a daily basis, you’ll ultimately feel fitter and stronger. But before getting into a routine, it’s important to relearn how to actually do one and perfect the technique.
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How do you do a handstand?
First things first: you need to get over any fears of falling. The only way to really do this is by… just doing it! Make sure you practice on a yoga mat for some protective cushioning if you do take a tumble.
Then it’s time to prepare.
Yoga teacher Brett Larkin has outlined yoga techniques on her website to practice for this, including these:
1. High plank pose: Keep your feet together and place your hands shoulder-width apart firmly on the mat. Think of the ground pushing you up and hold for 30 – 45 seconds.
2. Downward facing dog: Place your hands and feet on the ground, distributing your weight evenly. Keep your spine long by pushing back with your arms and reaching your tailbone up to the sky, keeping the soles of your feet close to the floor.
3. Boat pose: Sit on the floor with your legs bent and feet planted. Keep your spine straight as you begin to lift your feet off the ground and bring your arms in front of you.
Next up is the real deal: doing a proper handstand. Larkin continues to advise that you should take it slowly by using a wall to support your feet while starting out. Start by walking the feet up the wall so that your body is at a 90 degree angle, then gradually work them up with each try until you feel ready to push of the wall.
If and when you’re up for the challenge, you can then try it without the wall and ask a friend or yoga teacher to catch your legs. Eventually, you’ll be able to do it without support.
Food and lifestyle writers The Happy Pear are also big fans of the handstand and have made a tutorial video on how they use handstands in their yoga workouts.
It looks a lot of fun, doesn’t it? But always remember to go at your own pace and to practice as safely as possible. If you do a little every day, you’ll soon be kicking those legs up high – just like those carefree days in the park.
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