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How To Do Yoga Handstand Poses

When You Change The Way You Look At Things The Things You Look At Change

Basically: when life gets hard, when you don’t understand, or when you’ve generally spent too much time throwing your hands into the air in exhausted surrender… get upside down.

Though I might have rolled my eyes at the time, she was right. Handstands are so much more than a difficult asana pose. The benefits far surpass anything gained from merely getting into the posture or showing off your skills on Instagram.

Handstands are an incredibly powerful way to see the world through new eyes. They are emblematic of the transformation that comes after a revival in perspective. They are all about seeing things in a new way that is lifegiving and laced with the energy of renewal. Turning your whole world upside down gives you the space to re-imagine your purpose, your values, your life.

Though handstands were not one of the original 15 hatha yoga postures, they are an integral part of a sturdy asana practice for a reason. This pose engages the whole body and works synergistically to deliver benefits to both body and mind. It is not clear exactly when headstands and handstands made their way into our modern yoga practice. However, it is widely accepted that handstands have not been around since the “dawn of yoga time,” .

Some believe that handstands are a twentieth-century integration as yoga has become increasingly focused on strength and mastery of alignment, but this text suggests that handstands have been a part of a dynamic yoga practice for over a century.

Also From Allison Schleck And Yogauonline More Yoga Practice Tips

Allison Schleck, E-RYT 500, RPYT is a vinyasa based yoga teacher, fascinated by the intricate relationship between the mind and body. She offers a range of alignment-focused classes touching on anatomy, philosophy, and creative propping with a mindful approach.  In addition to teaching group classes and managing the Yoga Culture studio in Danbury, CT, she also teaches at Open Door Family Medical Center in Westchester, NY empowering mother’s to be with prenatal yoga classes and childbirth education. You can find her @allisonschleck on Instagram and

Remember You’re Not A Failure If Headstand Isn’t Your Thing

Peterson notes that whether you can pull off a headstand or not, that doesn’t make you any more or less of a yogi “Yoga is all about skillful action, so as long as you’re making choices with deep why and personal power, that’s yoga,” she says. “The way that you approach each pose is just as important as the doing of the pose. It’s still yoga even if you choose not to headstand.”

Kristine Thomason

Yoga Poses To Master Before Even Attempting Handstand

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Nailing Handstand in your yoga practice is no easy feat. In fact, the amount of body awareness, mobility and control needed to properly practice Handstand may make it one of the most challenging asanas in our practice. But the euphoria felt when you literally flip your perspective and float through the air is well worth the time, effort and dedication needed to learn this popular posture. Because Handstand is made up of so many difficult and complex elements, it is not advisable to literally jump into it without properly prepping the body. Like other yoga poses, Handstand requires the practitioner to be in tune with their body to not only hold the pose, but to transition in and out of the pose safely as well. Honor your body by giving it the time and preparation needed to practice Handstand. 

Balance + Strength + Endurance + Flexibility + Concentration = Handstand

 When learning this powerful inversion, I highly advise building strength in your core, shoulders and wrists to be sure you stay safe and injury-free before attempting to flip your world upside down. Incorporating a few key yoga poses into your practice will help you gain the strength and awareness needed to nail your Handstand. 

Insert Handstands Into Your Personal Practice Often


They don’t have to be perfect, but get used to being upside down in your personal practice. What’s the use of saving them for a rainy day, you know? You only get better at what you keep working at. You’ll notice in my personal practice below, I throw in a handstand here or there and I don’t breathe for very long because I’m not focused on the handstand. The handstand is not the goal. The goal is strength building, and the movement, the continual breath, and enjoying what I’m doing. Enjoy the learning process. And if you’re not totally sure where to begin, the YBC Intermediate Video Bundle has a great video for arm balances that includes a tutorial on handstands.

Apr 9, 2016 at 4:49pm PDT

Contraindications/precautions To Perform Handstand

  • Avoid doing this asana if you are suffering from an injury or severe pain in Legs, back spine, Arms, Shoulders, and Wrist.
  • If you are suffering from the following problems or diseases, you should never practice this: Blood pressure variation , Heart diseases.
  • Not recommended for menstruating women. Pregnant women can practice this only after consultation with an expert doctor.
  • They Improve Breathing Bone Health And Circulation

    Being upside down will relieve the pressure on your feet and legs and stretch your diaphragm. This will cause more blood to flow to your lungs, improving your breathing and overall circulation. And since handstands are weight-bearing, they strengthen your bones which can help to prevent osteoporosis. They also strengthen your spine, shoulders, arms, and wrists. 

    Yoga Handstand Tips How To Balance On Your Palms

    • Blog /
    • Yoga Handstand Tips – How to Balance On Your Palms

    A handstand can be the perfect solace for days when your transition from downward facing dog to a forward fold isn’t feeling very fluid, when your sun salutations aren’t offering you their usual sense of release, or when you just need a change of perspective. So here’s our top tips for how to do a yoga handstand.

    Adho Mukha Vrksasana, or handstand, is one of those “peak” postures in yoga practice. It’s a picture-perfect pose of strength, poise and stability – but it’s also one of the most challenging asanas to reach.

    Not only does the physical body require incredible strength and control to complete a handstand, but one must also conquer the fear of inverting before attempting to turn upside down. There are many tricks and tips you can practice to achieve a great handstand, but the best kept secrets lie in aligning your anatomy.

    Creating optimal alignment of the body while you’re upside down will enable you to find greater stability and a sense of ease in your posture. Practice these five secrets for a more stabilised and graceful handstand.

    Exercises And Yoga Poses To Prep For Handstand

    Laura HeggsTeacher and Anthropologist

    Yoga instructor, anthropologist & extroverted introvert. View more

    Handstand, or Adho Mukha Vrksasana, is an advanced inversion that requires body strength and balance. A regular practice of the pose can improve circulation, keep bones and the endocrine system healthy, and help you shift your perspective.

    Handstand is a physically challenging pose and requires core, leg and arm strength. It is also mentally challenging, literally turning your world upside down and activating the fight or flight response produced by the sympathetic nervous system.

    If inversions are new to you, it can feel weird and even scary at first. But practice makes progress with handstand, and this fear can be transformed in confidence with a solid preparation for the pose. If you want to get into the habit of practicing yoga every day, you should sign up to the free 30 Day Yoga Challenge. You’ll gain strength and you’ll get used to going upside down!

    Handstand is attainable for everyone—you just need to learn to teach your mind and body to execute the pose safely. Try out these yoga poses to prep for handstand to begin and work your way into the posture, improve the form, or explore the pose more in depth.

    Handstand Pose Yoga Sequence Preparatory Poses

    In order to get the best from the practice of Handstand Pose, apart from the warm-up practice, the practice of specific yoga poses should be considered as part of the preparation for this inversion. These are:

    • Phalakasana – for the wrists and shoulders for the intense inversion.
    • Adho Mukha Svanasana – to activate the shoulders, and prepare the body to jump or hop into a handstand, while also ensuring the alignment.
    • Bakasana – to gain strength in the upper body.
    • Handstand At Wall, and Half Handstand Wall – to understand the alignment of having the hips stacked over the shoulders and wrists, and allow for the weightless feeling when it happens. Also to initially get over the fear of falling, building confidence.
    • Headstand Pose – to understand how to engage core when inverted, along with the pressure towards the head and face.
    • Chakrasana Wheel Pose to prepare the wrists in case of toppling over.

    Simple Yoga Poses To Prep You For Handstands

    Inversions are not only fun and inspiring to look at, they can also be very good for your body. Handstands, headstands, shoulderstands and all other inversion variations can change your circulation, tone your body and create mental clarity. But not everyone can just kick straight up into a handstand. You want to make sure you have strong shoulders, a neutral pelvis and a stable core to practice inversions. The seven poses in this sequence all help you achieve those three things, so that handstands are more approachable and not as daunting. Ready to invert? Let’s get started!

    Poses To Practice On Your Way To Handstands

    One inversion that requires active engagement of the whole body is the handstand, or Adho Mukha Vrksasana. Handstands require not only physical ability, but mental ability too. Focus on how your body feels as you get into the pose, and notice where you need to engage more to improve balance. Once you feel that you’re ready to try handstands, dedicate some time every few days, or as often as possible to practice. Even if you just practice these preparatory poses, or a few handstands a day, you’ll be improving your balance and working up to longer hang-time with each practice. Here are some preparatory poses to prepare you for handstands.

    Crow Pose


    A tripod headstand involves both hands planted firmly onto the mat on either side of your head, framing your chin. If you are just beginning headstands, use a wall in front of you for support. Start about two feet in front of the wall.

    How To: Begin by coming to a tabletop position. Plant your hands on the mat, spreading your fingers out wide and rooting down through the fingers and palm, particularly the spot where your thumb and pointer finger meet as well as the knuckle of your index finger. Then slowly bring the crown of your head down between your palms, a few inches in front of them.

    High Crescent Lunge

    Standing Splits

    This pose can help shift your perspective to one you would have in a handstand. It also helps to cultivate balance and strengthen muscles in the legs.

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    The Spiritual Benefits Of Doing Handstands

    As humans, we generally like comfort and stability which two things that handstands take away from us – at least initially. We don’t realize how much we ‘play it safe’ in our lives until we’re challenged to take a risk and step out of our comfort zone. Something as simple as a a handstand is sufficient to challenge and dislodge some of our less-productive self-beliefs. 

    Handstands realign and energize us on many levels. As we draw in our focus, we can achieve the physical and spiritual balance necessary for successful handstands. The Sanskrit word for handstand is Urdvhavrsasana or upside-down tree. As our body stacks itself in alignment, we use our hands to root down into the earth. The roots enable a tree to have a strong trunk, branches, leaves, flowers, and fruit. In the same way, our rooting in this position can facilitate expansion in our lives. 

    This pose is associated with the crown chakra, which profoundly affects mental clarity and spiritual awareness. Energy flows from our hands up through our bodies. This builds strength and confidence and connects us to our ‘higher’ selves, our planet, and the greater universe. Perspective changing, indeed! 

    Yoga Poses To Get You Ready For Handstand

    Ali WashingtonAuthor and Life Coach

    Two weeks ago I wrote an article about 5 postures to strengthen your legs, and in the comments I was asked if I would share a post on poses to strengthen your arms, in order to achieve handstand. First off, I love reader requests! If there is ever anything you want to see from me, just let me know and I will get on it.

    Second, handstand requires more than arm strength. Handstand is one of those awesome, full-body engagement postures, so I am going to give you 5 poses to work that will strengthen your arms, your core, your deep core , your bottom and your legs — because you need all of them for handstand. So lets get started!

    Here are 5 poses to help get you into handstand:

    Be Careful While Coming Out Of The Pose

    Being cautious while coming out of the pose is as important as while performing it. Releasing the weight abruptly can strain the neck or shoulder due to the sudden jerk. While coming out of the pose, follow the same procedure in reverse order. Bend your knees close to your chest. Slowly straighten your legs and touch your toes to the ground.


    Step 3: Half Handstand Toe At The Wall

    From Uttanasana, come to Down Dog. Move your hands a few inches farther from the wall, and return to Half Handstand, with your left leg lifted. Press the ball of your right foot into the wall, shifting the point of contact to your big toe, so that the heel lifts free. Take 5 breaths, lower the leg, and repeat on the other side.

    Tip: Engage your lower abdominal muscles to maintain balance.

    See also 3 Prep Poses for Supported Headstand

    Yoga Poses For Tight Rounded Shoulders

    Unlocking tight shoulders and chests are something that I focus on constantly with my yoga students, CrossFitters and training clients. Rounded shoulders and tight chest muscles have become the norm in our society as we are constantly hunched over desks and steering wheels and carrying heavy bags or children on one side of our bodies.

    Handstand At Wall Contraindications

    Handstand At Wall is a intermediate level yoga pose that is performed in prone position.Handstand At Wall additionally involves strength, Inversion, Balance.Need Handstand At Wall contraindications? Please to request contraindications of Handstand At Wall and we will notify you as soon as your request has been completed.

  • Bring the body closer to the wall after relaxing in Corpse Pose.
  • Keeping the body away from the wall to say about 6 feet distance, stand with feet together and place the palms on the floor close to your feet.
  • Inhale and raise the right leg from the floor and place the right foot firm on the wall behind you and exhale. Inhale again and pick the left leg and place the left foot on the wall close to the right foot with complete exhalation.
  • The body in now on the arms with the head between the arms and slowly move or adjust the arms to ensure the legs are not bent at the knees and the body looks like a right angle .
  • With the entire legs parallel to the floor and the entire body parallel to the wall, watch the balance and bring the body to balance on the arms without pushing the wall.
  • Use less force on the wall with the legs and bring the focus to the core and balance the body. Stay here with the support for about 4 breaths and with slow gaining of confidence, one can work on going into the final Handstand Pose without the wall support.
  • Release the pose by bringing one leg at a time on the floor and relax by bringing the body to Vajrasana.
  • Elevating Your Feet To L Handstand

    There is no need to rush this process. Adho Mukha Svanasana is the ground level of “L” Handstand. It’s a mild inversion that allows you to practice all of the elements that we discussed, including arm positioning, deepening the fold at the hips and pressing through the legs.

    Once comfortable in Downward Facing Dog Pose, you can start elevating the feet, shifting weight from the feet to the hands. There are a variety of ways to elevate your feet until you eventually come into the “L” Handstand. The following are propped suggestions of working up to this pose.

  • Place two blocks on their lowest level, horizontally against the wall an inch wider than hipbone-distance apart. From Bharmanasana , place your feet on the blocks, and then come into Downward Facing Dog Pose.

  • Now stack two blocks in the same fashion and come into Downward Facing Dog Pose. Notice how much more weight is in your hands now than with your regular Downward Facing Dog Pose.

  • Now try using a chair. Set a chair up against the wall with the seat facing away from the wall. You may want to place a blanket between the back of the chair and the wall so that the chair remains in place.

  • Stand in front of the chair and face away from it. Fold forward, firmly press your hands into the floor and place your feet on the chair seat .

  • Press your feet down into the chair as you elevate your hips. You can walk your hands back so that they align under your shoulders.


    Before You Try To Do Headstand

    How to Do Handstand Pose (Adho Mukha Vrksasana)

    Realize that it’s totally okay if headstand isn’t right for you, or your body. There are a number of factors that may get in the way of your doing the pose that are totally out of your control, notes Peterson.

    17 Yoga Moves That Will Help You Sculpt Abs

    For example, if you have degenerative disk issues, structural imbalances in your back, or neck and shoulder issues—DO NOT DO A HEADSTAND. “It’s just not worth it.” But even if nothing is standing in your way, there are some things to keep in mind before attempting your first headstand.

    Practice alignment. When it comes to headstand, keeping your spine and body in the proper position is crucial, says Peterson. To practice your alignment, do mountain pose, where you stand straight up with your arms raised overhead and toward your ears “to work your neck and build strong muscles.”

    And when you do prepare to do headstand, “have an instructor watch you and check the alignment of your neck,” she advises. “Are you at the right place on the top of your head? Is there a curve in your spine?” These are all important things to consider to prevent injury.

    Don’t put all the weight in one place. “The goal is to have less than 10 percent of your body weight in your head,” notes Peterson. That means, it’s crucial to engage the rest of your body, like your arms, core, glutes, and legs. You can also practice with less weight, by placing yoga blocks under your forearms, to take any pressure out of your head.

    They Build Upper Body Strength

    Maybe building muscle isn’t high on your list of priorities, but developing upper body strength is something we can all work on more. Staying upside down for any period will build strength in your shoulders, arms, and upper back. If you’re practising handstands often, you’ll see your strength increasing.

    Modified Handstand At The Wall

    You’ve done the groundwork , now head to the wall and start to get a better feel for being upside down. HOW TO DO IT: Start in a short downward-facing dog with you heels touching the wall. Walk your feet up the wall to the level of your hips. Wrap your triceps back as you press your sternum toward the wall. Draw the belly to the spine and work your thigh bones up into the hamstrings. Stay here for five breaths. Then come down and hang out in a standing forward fold.

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    What’s The Point Of Headstand

    Well, for starters, Peterson explains that headstands are known in yoga as “inversions”—poses that bring your heart over your head, or flip you upside down. According to Peterson, inversions are said to benefit the cardiovascular system along with the lymphatic system. Headstands are also a great physical challenge. “You have to work everything to hold this posture,” notes Peterson, including your arms, core, glutes, and legs.

    Not to mention, there are some mental perks, too: “I think one of the benefits is pure, clean fun!” says Peterson. “Plus, refreshing your perspective and putting everything upside down is incredible, psychologically.”

    Work Your Way Up To Headstand

    “If you’re brand new at it, go step-by-step,” says Peterson. “Realize everyone has to work at it.” Build your way up to it with other poses, like downward dog or dolphin pose, wide-leg forward fold, or legs up the wall .

    You can also practice using a chair. To do so, get into dolphin pose with your hands cradling your head and put your feet on a chair or bench. Then practice extending one leg into the air, then the other.

    In fact, she notes that these are all great alternative inversions, if you find headstand really isn’t your thing.

    Stabilise Your Shoulder Joint

    As you stand, walk or run, your body naturally stabilises the hip joint. This allows for mobility, but is also an incredibly secure function. However, as we typically don’t stand on our hands, the shoulder joint is designed for significantly more mobility than the hip. So, to compensate for this extra movement when you’re weight bearing on the arms, you need to stabilise the joint. As this joint is very complicated, stabilising it requires a few actions.

    With your foundation set in the palms, actively press your hands down into the floor as if you’re trying to press it away from you, resisting gravity. Keep this action, and hug the head of your arm bones in toward the shoulder sockets, and horizontally toward the midline of your body. Isometrically draw your hands toward each other, and then begin to protract your scapula by drawing the shoulder blades apart from each other, creating a rounding through your upper back .


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