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Step Up to Handstand

Updated: Jul 11, 2020

By Allison Ray Jeraci

Photo by Andrea Killam

Yoga International

When it comes to my love of practicing handstands, William Shakespeare’s quote from Twelfth Night resonates with me: “Journeys end in lovers meeting...” While you may not have an immediate desire for learning how to do a handstand, once you have the feeling of handstand in your body, the love for it grows.

We start at the beginning of what will be a long journey. Kicking up to a handstand can be difficult, or even frustrating—particularly if you view it as the only path to getting your body upside down, balancing on your hands. Arriving in adho mukha vrksasana (formally “downward facing tree pose,” more commonly referred to as “handstand”) is not nearly as important as the journey you take to get there. I’ve found that teaching students how to step up to the pose often makes it more accessible for them than kicking up. During a kick-up, most of your body is in motion as you head upside down, making it difficult to feel where your body is in space. Stepping up to handstand, however, allows you to feel your body adapt to the inversion at each step in the process, while building crucial elements needed to sustain a sturdy and well-aligned handstand. Learning to first step up into a handstand will make easier the other means of accessing handstand (like kicking up, pike-jumping up, and pressing up).

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