This short yoga routine will give you the foundation for mastering handstands. With Kino MacGregor
Early in her career as an online yoga instructor, Kino MacGregor made a name for herself doing handstands, but the pose didn’t come naturally for her. She practiced for years and toppled over countless times before she was able to hold a handstand. She found that doing certain yoga poses daily gave her the foundation she needed to finally find her balance upside-down.
Executing a handstand takes core strength, flexibility, and balance. The exercises and poses she has put together below are your first step to building the foundation of strength and flexibility that will support you on your handstand journey.
1. Downward dog
Let’s begin with a downward facing dog, a foundational pose in yoga. Start on your hands and knees in tabletop position. Curl your toes under and bring your hips out and up. Straighten your legs and drop your heels toward the floor. Your feet are about hip width apart and your hands are about shoulder width apart. Roll your shoulders down your back and try to evenly distribute your weight between your hands and feet. Look toward your navel. Hold for five breaths.
2. Puppy Pose
Puppy pose will release the shoulders and give you a nice stretch through the front body. Come down onto your hands and knees. Walk your hands forward with your thumbnails touching. Rest your forehead on the ground with your hands out in front of you and your hips up. Come up onto your fingertips and lengthen through your arms and shoulders letting them open. Hold this pose for five breaths. Option to use a block here.
Now let’s engage your core with plank pose. A good plank is one of the best poses for handstands. From tabletop position, pitch your shoulders a little bit forward to align your deltoids with your knuckles. Step one leg back, straightening it. Then step the other leg back. Tuck your tailbone under. Spread your shoulders away from each other and lift up through your upper back. Engage your core. Stay in plank for five breaths.
4. Standing Forward Fold
Flexibility is an important part of training your body to get into handstand, so let’s work on your hamstring flexibility with forward fold. From downward dog walk your feet forward so they are behind your hands. Bend your knees a little and with your hands grab your opposite elbows. Let your torso hang, resting against your thighs. Now straighten your knees as much as you can while continuing to let your torso, arms, and head hang loosely. Hold for five breaths.
5. Table Top Knees Up Hold
This pose builds even more core strength. Return to your hands and knees for tabletop position. Keep the toes curled under. Your knees are hip width apart and your hands are shoulder width apart. Grip your fingertips on your mat. Tighten your core and lift your knees a few inches off the ground. Shift your weight forward a little into your fingertips. Then shift it back a little into your feet. Shift back and forth five times. Shift your weight forward into the fingertips one last time and hold for five breaths.
6. Hollow Body Lie Down With Arms Up
Hollow body with arms up will continue to strengthen your core. Lay down on your back with your knees bent and your feet on the floor. Tuck your tailbone so your low back is pressing into the ground. Exhale and firm the muscles of your abdomen. Extend your arms forward and up. Hold for five breaths.
7. Standing Forward Fold (Tiptoes)
From downward facing dog, walk your feet forward behind your hands. Relax your neck and look at your feet. If you need to you can bend your knees or place your hands on yoga blocks. Stay for five breaths. Shift your weight forward and look between your thumbs. Remember to keep your neck relaxed. Stay for five breaths. Come up onto the tips of your toes. Continue to look between your thumbs and tighten your core. Stay for five breaths.