It looks very easy, but mastering the “moment with two legs raised” is not so easy. Handstand professional Hie Kim explains the correct technique
Upside down positions like the handstand allow you to see things from a completely different perspective. At the same time, however, they require balance, strength and a little courage. “The handstand is an effective asana for proving to yourself how capable you are,” says Yoga instructor Hie Kimwho has been teaching handstand courses for years. One thing is clear: the handstand requires a certain level of fitness. Would you like to be in great shape in 8 weeks? Then get our jump rope training plan here.
Now it can seem pretty impossible to learn the handstand – especially if you’re practicing on your own and don’t know how to start. In his workshop in Meridian Spa Hamburg-Barmbek the yoga teacher from Frankfurt explained to us the right handstand technique and revealed the best tips on how to bring your heart over your head and find your balance headfirst.
What does the handstand do?
In yoga, the handstand is called Adho Mukha Vrksasna, which translated means something like “tree with the face down”. All well and good, but what is the point? Quite a few. The handstand is not just a cool move, the reverse position has an effect also have a positive effect on body and mind:
1. Handstand trains the body tension
In the handstand, body tension is the key to balance. You learn to hold your body firmly in one shape and then keep yourself in balance upside down.
2. Handstand promotes concentration
The unfamiliar posture has the direct consequence that you practice more concentrated and are fully involved. There is no room for other thoughts at first.
3. Handstand boosts your confidence
Turning the world upside down takes courage. Because most of them are used to having both feet firmly on the ground. To learn the handstand, you have to venture out of this comfort zone. It can be very enriching for self-confidence to change your perspective, turn your own world upside down and overcome fears.
Which muscles are trained in a handstand?
For the inverted posture you not only need strength in your arms and upper body, but above all stability in the abdominal muscles. “The back muscles also play a bigger role than most people think,” explains Kim. In a handstand, you work with an isometric muscle contraction. This means that the length of the muscles does not change when you contract the muscles.
For the handstand, however, a sure instinct and a good sense of balance are much more crucial than muscle strength: “There are 2 decisive factors in handstands: control over the fingertips and the strength of the body,” says the expert. Body tension gives stability, your fingertips keep your balance. You want more? Here Mady Morrison explains how to get into the headstand in 10 easy steps.
The best preparatory exercises for the handstand
Anyone doing yoga often hears: Let loose shoulders. In the handstand the opposite is the case. “When practicing handstands, you should make sure that your arms are externally rotated so that the crooks of your arms point in the same direction as your fingertips. You pull your shoulders towards your ears so that your upper back becomes stable, but at the same time you stretch your chest out,” explains Kim. You can practice this posture before you approach the handstand (with a partner) with the following preliminary exercises:
1. The boat
The boat is a classic abdominal exercise that many people know from Pilates. To do this, sit up straight, put your legs up and let your upper body sink back slightly and tense your abdominal muscles. Now you lift your feet off the floor. You can straighten your legs or keep your lower legs level. Release your hands from the floor and stretch them forward at shoulder height.
Phew, pretty exhausting. Now gently rock back and forth like a boat in the water. “The posture does not change and you practice maintaining the muscle length. Like a boat, you stay very tight,” says yoga teacher Hie Kim.
2. Floating plank
“The feet are like Romeo and Juliet. They are very fond of each other and always want to stay together,” says Kim. So he lets course participants go into the plank position to test this: put hands shoulder-width apart, shoulder blades apart, upper back rounded, tip toes, torso as hard as a board.
Then a training partner slowly lifts the practitioner’s feet and “tests whether love is strong” by carefully letting go of one foot. The task: keep your feet closed! “In this exercise, you train yourself to center your legs, maintain proper shape, and build body tension,” Kim explains. Not enough? These 5 plank variants ensure a strong center.
3. Toe balance
“This exercise shows how we balance ourselves later in the handstand. We mainly use our fingers for this,” explains Kim. Stand up straight with your feet together. Stay straight and slowly lean back and forth. You will notice: “If we lean too far forward, we intuitively press our toes into the ground so as not to fall over. We do the same with our hands in handstands.”
4. Tighten your legs
This exercise is used to activate the abdominal muscles and to practice the move that will later bring you into the handstand in a controlled manner without swing and using pure muscle power. The best way to do this is to put on socks and practice on a smooth surface. Get on the plank, lay your feet flat and pull them out of the abdominal muscles across the floor towards you. The hips rise over the shoulders. “Feel exactly what the abdominal muscles are doing and memorize this movement, it is very important later.”
5. Lift your hips over your shoulders
“This exercise is all about empathy. You have to be able to fully rely on your exercise partner and she has to empathize with you while you learn to bring your hips over your shoulders.” The practitioner starts on the plank and the partner carefully lifts her feet (caution: always lift straight up, do not pull back). From this starting position, the practitioner pushes the hips up as far as possible.
6. The hot wire
Now it’s getting serious! On the plank you walk with your feet in the direction of your hands and then lift one leg straight up in the air as if doing a standing split. The partner grabs this foot and supports it so that you can press the foot into her hand and align the other leg straight up over your pelvis and land in a half handstand. The other leg, which the exercise partner supports at a right angle, now becomes the “hot wire”.
One hand supports you from below, with the other you give you a few centimeters of space above. Now the previously practiced move from the abdominal muscle exercise comes into play: “If you now tightly tense the abdominal muscles, you can lift the leg from your partner’s supporting hand. Touch the partner’s upper hand and press your fingertips firmly into the floor not to lose your balance. ” Is your foot floating between your partner’s hands? Congratulations, you can do handstands!
How do I manage to keep my handstand balance?
It is crucial for the handstand that you learn to bring your pelvis over your shoulders and find balance in this position. As the toe balance has shown, you can do this in the handstand mainly using the fingertips and body tension. By the way: “If you have a good feeling for your legs, you can split them up in the air. This makes it much easier to balance on your hands,” says the handstand teacher.
Can I also practice the handstand on the wall?
Those who understand the technique but do not always have a training partner can practice the handstand on the wall. It is important not to let yourself fall back against the wall. “That’s not how you learn to come up.” Instead, practice with your stomach facing the wall, balancing yourself with body tension, abdominal muscles and tact and thus detaching yourself from the wall. “To do this, however, you need a plan of how you can get out safely if you do get too much momentum and threaten to tip over,” says Kim.
Put simply, you have to practice falling properly so that you don’t get hurt. “This exit strategy has to be as simple as possible, because if we fall we have no time for complex processes,” explains the expert. So if you threaten to tip over backwards with your right leg, take a step forward with your right hand. This immediately shifts your center of gravity and lands you on your feet.
How fast do you learn a handstand?
“When I ask my course participants whether they would describe themselves as ambitious, most of them say yes. However, being ambitious also means working long and patiently without being rewarded. This also applies to the handstand. Of course it does Also on the movement experience. Anyone who did gymnastics as a child sees success faster than others, “says Kim. Psst, here you will find out the most important yoga basics.
How does the handstand work on one hand?
A simple handstand is not enough for you? Then comes the professional version: “The easiest way to learn the one-armed handstand is to practice with a yoga block,” says Kim. So you’re doing a shoulder-width handstand with your left hand on top of you Yoga-Block is supported.
“Keep your feet together and stretch both arms.” This shifts the left buttock over the right shoulder. When you have found your balance in this position, you can slowly release your left hand from the yoga block. Caution: “Don’t stretch your arm to the side like a circus performer – that will only throw you off balance. Rather, stretch your arm straight up next to your body,” recommends Kim.
Yes, it takes practice and patience to learn the handstand. But always remember: it is a process. A process that strengthens both the body and the mind.