How to do a Handstand!
I always find myself wanting to throw my legs up in the air and do handstands in the summertime. Timothy and I were recently out in Sheep’s Meadow in Central Park and I loved kicking off my shoes and balancing on my hands. Timothy was squealing with delight and putting his head down on the grass trying to mimic me. I just feel like such a kid in the summer, and especially when I’m with my little man who inspires me to play, play, play.
Many of my students usually shy away from inversions and have a fear of trying precarious arm balances. I think something happens to us as we age, we start to become more timid and hold ourselves back. I know it can be scary to go upside down since we might crash; but if we don’t learn how to fall on our mat, we will never take risks in other parts of our lives.
Here are some easy steps to help you work on going in to a handstand. If you even just stay in the T stand, you will still get the benefits of the inversion and strengthen your arms, shoulders, abs and legs.
Start with all fours at the wall. Make sure you don’t walk your hands forward (this is tempting but you need to keep your hands directly under your shoulders).
Then, come in to a short downward dog at the wall.
Next walk your feet up on to the wall in line with your hips. Keep your knees bent and feel the strength in your legs and abs.
When you are comfortable, straighten out your legs to make a T shape. Hold here for at least 5 breaths. Then come down and rest.
Try coming in to your T shape once again and this time lift one leg up to the ceiling and hold for 2 to 3 breaths then try the other leg.
Now you are ready to turn to face the wall and practice kicking one leg up at at time. Make sure to keep the back leg straight and think of kicking your butt (like a donkey kick) with the other leg.
When you generate enough power to get your hips up above your hands you will find the wall with the bent leg and the straight leg.
Eventually try moving the legs off the wall and balancing just on your hands.
Have fun and make sure you really go for it when you kick up! Handstands are great for building confidence, letting go off steam and having fun. You will feel youthful, alive and ready to take on the world.
When you really get good at them, you can take your practice anywhere! And it never hurts to have a friend to support you…
Kristin McGee is a celebrity yoga and Pilates instructor in New York City. She is the star of over 100 videos, a contributing editor at Health Magazine and a spokeswoman for many brands and causes she believes in. Kristin also appears frequently on television. A proud mom to three, she sure keeps herself busy!