Yoga Handstand Video Tutorial: Handstanding 101 “The Basics”

Yoga Handstand Video Tutorial: Handstanding 101 “The Basics

Do you want to do a handstand but have no idea where to start?

Good!

You have come to the right place!

This handstand tutorial video will cover all of the basics from hand placement to how to kick up!

  • Place your hands on your yoga mat shoulder distance apart and spread all ten fingers gripping the mat lightly with your fingertips
  • Wrap your triceps back towards your ribcage and roll your biceps forward.
  • Engage your biceps by trying to “wrinkle the mat” between your hands. You will probably not actually cause the mat to wrinkle but this isometric contraction will help your bicep muscles to fire up!
  • Pull your navel in towards your spine and your bottom floating ribs in and up towards the tops of your thighs.
  • Walk your feet as close as you can to your hands. This should feel a lot like Ardha Uttanasna with your hands flat on the floor and your feet about 18 inches behind your hands. Do this while still keeping your shoulders firmly planted on your upper back and not sliding forward towards your ears. If this happens, slide your shoulders back down and maybe walk your feet back an inch or two.
  • Lift one leg into the air and straighten it all the way. Think of trying to stretch the skin on the back of your knee.
  • Turn the lifted foot pinky straight down towards the ground squaring off the hip.
  • Keeping the lifted leg as straight and firm as possible bend your standing leg and on an exhale kick the straight leg up into the air. (Exhaling as you go up will draw your navel towards your spine and help to engage your core)
  • Keep your eyes fixed just in front of your index fingers the whole time. Resist the temptation to gaze back at your feet.
  • Once you find your balance squeeze your inner thighs together (think thigh master!) draw your navel towards your spine and reach your tailbone towards your heels!
  • You can practice this at the wall and then move away from the wall as you feel more confident.
  • Practice, practice, PRACTICE! It is 99% effort and 1% theory!
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Your Hands In Handstand: 7 Easy Tips For Better Handstands!

When it comes to handstand there is no better place to start than your hands!

Sure, it seems pretty obvious. However the hands are sometimes an afterthought for students whose minds are preoccupied with trying to get their bottom to float above their head.

For the frequent flyer however (see inspiring photo to your left of my teacher Krista Cahill by the incredible photographer Jasper Johal) the hands and wrists always come first when attempting handstand!

Like anything, it’s best to start at the bottom and work up. In this case the foundation is your hands and like any good foundation it must be laid properly.

The worst possible news for a house is having cracks in its foundation and the worst news for a handstand are poorly positioned hands. (A close second is a poorly positioned attitude, actually a bad attitude is worse…but I digress)

At any rate you are headed for trouble fast if you don’t get your digits and palms properly set up, so listen close future flyers!

Tips For Your Hands in Handstand

  1. Place your hands shoulders width apart with your hands slightly turned out.
  2. Spread your fingers wide apart. Reach the fingers forward and apart to spread the weight evenly. Uneven weight causes problems for the wrist. Your fingers should spread evenly away from the palm like the spokes on a wagon wheel.
  3. Pay special attention to your index finger and thumb rooting down into the mat.
  4. Then with your hands firmly planted on your sticky mat try to squeeze them towards one another like you are trying to wrinkle your mat between your hands. The mat will not actually wrinkle  but this action engages the muscles of the hands, forearms and biceps creating stability.
  5. Push into your hands! Trust that they will hold the weight of your body. (Be mindful however not to push out of your shoulders, keep your collarbones wide and your shoulder blades firmly planted on your upper back! More about that later)
  6. Do not let the wrists lift! As you jump from the back of the mat it’s tough not to let the wrists lift, but do your best. I took a workshop with master ashtangi David Swenson and he kept saying over and over again to “put the weight in your hands”. This is key! Imagine your hands are cemented to the floor, make them super heavy as you practice jumping into handstand!
  7. Grip with your fingertips. Think of them as your emergency brakes. These little guys will help you not to “Go flying over the handlebars” as my teacher Brock Cahill likes to say. (Your primary brakes are your core and serratus anterior muscle. Secondary are your forearms and fingertips.)

Happy Handstanding Yogis!

Dolphin Pose Variation – The Dynamic Duo External Rotation and Strong Forearms!

Learn how to externally rotate your arms and strengthen your forearms in this amazing dolphin pose variation by Jill Miller.

Two essentials for yoga inversions are external rotation of the arm bones forearm strength.

External rotation is the thing that allows you to take the training wheels off and start flying. It connects your shoulder girdle to your core via your Serratus anterior muscle.

The Serratus is a badass muscle that lives underneath you underarm  and wraps your front body to your back body. Hiding from plain view like a ninja shrouded by darkness this muscle doesn’t get noticed.

Until now…(cue dramatic music…)

To my delight this variation on dolphin pose addresses both of those issues!

On top of all that it also feels delicious in its ability to solidify the shoulders onto the upper back. It feels sturdy. Always a good thing when you plan to balance upon them.

I owe this genius photo and pose to Jill Miller of Yoga Tune Up. I found this in a wonderful article of hers on wrist health. To read the original article click HERE.

Dolphin Pose with Palms Facing Up

a) Rest forearms on a yoga mat, and place a yoga block in between the wrists along the pinky side of hands.

b) Pike the hips upwards, forming an upside down “V” shape with the body (bend the knees if the hamstrings are very tight).

c) Attempt to press the thumb side of the hand into the floor, and feel the traction and stretch deeply within the muscles of the forearms as the spine extends away from the rooted forearms.

(Item D is my addition to Jill’s amazing instruction)

d) Prepare for world domination now that you have the mighty Serratus holding your shoulders on your upper back like superman’s cape!

Yoga Video: Kick From Down Dog To Handstand With Angela Kukhahn

How To Kick From Down Dog To Handstand Yoga Video With Angela Kukhahn

Ever wonder how people kick from handstand from downward dog? Magic? Nope! Just a few simple steps to get your float on! Watch this short yoga video on inversions and you will be flying into handstand from downward dog in no time!

Happy Handstanding Yogis!

Yoga Inspiration ~ Never Stop Lifting!

Crow To Handstand Yoga Transition with Angela Kukhahn in Brock Cahill’s Class at Yogis Anonymous!

“Never Stop Lifting!” is the advice my teacher Krista Cahill gave me what felt like a million times as I attempted (and failed) at this seemingly impossible transition from Crow Pose (Bakasana) to Handstand.

Physically its all about shifting your weight forward by moving your pelvis up and forward and bringing your knees towards your chest.

Mentally it is all about never giving up, even when something looks and feels impossible!

This transition serves as a great reminder to never ever, ever give up! 

What poses inspire you? What have you learned from them?

Manipura: 8 Types Of Yoga Poses To Strengthen Your Third Chakra

Third Chakra- Manipura 8 Types Of Yoga Poses To Strengthen Your Third Chakra

The third chakra (manipura chakra meaning “lustrous jewel”) is the seat of personal power within the body because this is the chakra of  life force. It is imperative that we strengthen this chakra if we want to manifest our own unique divine gifts in this lifetime. Without the strength cultivated in the third chakra all of the creativity flowing from the second chakra is of little use. The third chakra gives us the courage to put ourselves out there so to speak.

How can we strengthen the third chakra you ask? Yoga of course! Blockage manifests as anger or a sense of victimization.

Color: Yellow

Location: The Navel

When Manipura the third chakra is balanced we feel at peace, energetic, fearless and free of the destructive tendencies of other people. It is in Manipura chakra that we really free ourselves from our illusion and our complexes. When balanced we take full responsibility for our life. We feel a strong sense of self-worth and positive self value. There is confidence in making decisions because there is a feeling of being in control over our life.

Manipura the third chakra rules the organs of digestion which includes the abdomen, upper intestines liver, adrenals, gallbladder kidneys and pancreas.

When Manipura chakra is out of balance some of the physical dysfunctions people may experience are difficulty with digestion, liver dysfunction, anorexia or bulimia, colon/intestinal problems, and stomach ulcers.

Yoga Poses for Manipura The Third Chakra:

1. Suryanamaskar (Sun Salutation) A and B

2. All Abdominal Strengtheners

3. Navasana (Boat Pose)

4. Ardha Navasana (Half Boat Pose)

5. Urdhva Prasarita Padasana (Leg Lifts)

6. Warrior poses (Warrior 1, Warrior 2, Warrior 3, Reverse Warrior, Crescent)

7. Twists

8. Bhastrika Pranayama (Bellows Breath or Breath of Fire).

Imbalances In Third Chakra Manifest As…

  • Eating disorders
  • Low self-esteem
  • Difficulty in making decisions
  • Obsession with power
  • Control issues
  • Anger
  • Need for power and recognition
  • Need for approval
  • Stress
  • Frustration
  • Fear of responsibility
  • Guilt
  • Worry
  • Doubt
  • Self esteem
  • Commitment issues

A balanced third chakra manifests as having a solid self-esteem, feelings of purpose, having healthy self-respect, being ambitious, and self-motivated. With a healthy navel chakra we are full of energy, efficiency and spontaneity without being dominating.

Body Detox ~ 10 Amazing Yoga Poses to Kickstart Cleansing

Need a yoga detox routine?

Here is a quick body detoxifying yoga sequence! When you are feeling sluggish and need a full body cleanse these yoga poses will kickstart the process!

Even the best laid plans this time of year tend to get derailed by the many bbq’s, picnics and poolside  gatherings that are customary during the warmer summer months. As lovely as that mac n’ cheese, burger or in my case 5 gardenburgers (In my defense I didn’t eat the bun,..but did I really need 5 gardenburgers smothered in bbq sauce? ) looked the day before you end up waking up the next day feeling like you are about to give birth to a bowling ball. Ugh!

So what’s a person to do? Besides of course sitting around rubbing your tummy, groaning and muttering things like “I am never eating such and such (insert food you overindulged in) EVER again” to anyone who will listen?

Yoga to the rescue!!! Here are 10 detoxifying poses that will kickstart your digestion, elimination and get you back on your livers good side in no time!

Start with a gentle warm up, nothings fancy, just 5 Surya A Sun Salutes to get the joints, tendons and ligaments warmed up and the blood flowing to all the major muscle groups. As a bonus this alone is already helping the lymph glands to eliminate waste, and Cobra, Up Dog and Forward Fold are all excellent for detoxing as well!

Detox Pose 1: Breath of Fire.

Benefits: Breath of Fire is a super detoxifier as it works expel carbon dioxide. This is one of the ways the body expels excess acid. Exhalation of carbon dioxide represents an excretion of acids. So this breathing technique helps to restore the bodies pH. As an added benefit, Breath of Fire is also one of the most effective way to engage and strengthen your Transversus Abdominals which act as a corset around your middle!

Detox Poses 2 and 3: Navasana and Ardha Navasana Cycle (Boat and Half Boat) Go slowly and do 10-20 reps depending upon how strong you are. On the last Ardha Navasana hold for 30-60 seconds.

Benefits: Navasana works to clear gunk from the intestines while Ardha Navasana works to clear the liver, gall bladder and spleen. These will tone your abs and get you back into those skinny jeans pronto!

Detox Pose 4: Dhanurasana/Bow Pose. Do 3 rounds holding each one for about a minute with even breathing.

Benefits: The pressure on your abdomen when performing this pose aids in digestion, stokes the gastric fire and helps with in flatulence issues you may have.(Oh sure, you can play dumb..I believe it wasn’t you..really…)

Detox Pose 5: Child’s Pose/Balasana

Benefits: Stretches your lower back muscles around the kidneys bathing them in fresh oxygenated blood and compresses the liver and abdomen promoting digestion and de-bloating after a big meal.

Detox Pose 6: Bridge/Setu Bhanda Sarvangasana and/or Upward Facing Bow/Urdhva Dahnurasana Start with bridge and if your body feels open enough come into full wheel posture.

Benefits: Chest opening poses are good to counter congestion or stagnation. Backbends are also very useful to increase metabolism…and let’s face it we could all use a little extra metabolism after a big day of indulgence!

Detox Pose 7: Marichiyasana C (Seated Sage Twist)
Benefits: Yoga twists stimulate digestion and help with the elimination of impurities and waste products from the body. The abdominal organs are squeezed during twists, stimulating the kidneys and liver, and forcing out blood filled with metabolic by-products and toxins. When the twists are released, then fresh, clean blood enters these organs, bathing the cells in nutrients and oxygen.

Detox Pose 8: Head to Knee Forward Fold Pose/Janu Sirsasana
Benefits: Forward bending poses are a good way to compress the abdominal organs. The digestive system is stimulated, helping with the elimination process.

Detox Pose 9 and 10: Plow Pose/Halasana and Salamba Sarvangasana/Shoulderstand Use several blankets to ease any tension on the neck. If you still feel tension take your legs up the wall instead into Viparita Karani.

Benefits: Inverted pose, such as Plow, Shoulder stand, or a simple “Legs up the wall” pose helps to drain accumulated lymph fluid from the legs and re-circulate it through the body. This benefits the immune system. Inverting is also good for increasing metabolism as it stimulates the thyroid gland!

Finish with Fish Pose,  Supine Twist and then rest in Savasana for 5-15min, you deserve it!