Why handstand?

Where to start with learning to handstand. By Sarah Moosavi

The image of yoga has changed dramatically over the years from the stereotypical lotus pose images to increasingly more coveted postures like handstand and pincha. I have noticed many people coming to yoga classes just because they want to learn how to do a handstand. To be honest, it’s one of the reasons I started going to yoga classes. So what is this fascination with being able to balance on our hands upside down?

Personally, I think it comes back to being in touch with my inner child and its playfulness of it. And let’s be honest, it’s a pretty cool party trick. But in reality, handstand training is HARD! It’s not all fun and games – if you want to advance to superhuman levels. This is the point at which I find that elusive flow state. That state of complete concentration on one thing and moving intuitively with my body. However, I feel that this state can be achieved within a handstand practice quite early on, whenever you are learning a new skill that requires complete concentration. Mentally it’s extreme highs and lows which is challenging but it can reveal a lot about you as a person, just like a traditional yoga practice can. But for me, I almost feel that this is more obvious when working specifically on one thing.

I should also say that I find it incredibly fun and rewarding as at the beginning progression tends to happen quite quickly which also acts to get you hooked.

So where do you start? Although your first taste of handstand may be in a yoga class, I don’t feel going to a weekly yoga class with a teacher that isn’t an expert is going to help. There are so many other things going on within a yoga class that the teacher doesn’t have the time or the necessary knowledge or experience to teach handstands correctly or efficiently. This just may not be something they practice. My advice would be to seek a handstand coach, whether that’s online or in person. There are numerous group classes in London specifically for beginners as well as online options. At least do a couple of sessions so that you know what it feels like. Or you could do the other option if fear isn’t an issue and just try yourself with a wall to act as a spotter.

If you want to get your handstand – which I believe pretty much anyone can – then consistency is key. You need to start with low volume but do this every other day, gradually building up. I can’t emphasise gradual progression enough. It takes time for our hands, wrists and shoulders to adapt to the weight.

I believe that almost anyone can learn how to do a handstand, it may not be perfect but you can still find joy and satisfaction from learning something new.

Sarah Moosavi

Dynamic yoga teacher with a keen interest in hand balancing and flexibility training