How handstands can help with pole….
I meet so many students who absolutely hate even attempting a handstand. And I get it, we’re so used to having our feet on the ground so being told to go upside down and hold your weight in your hands feels completely alien! 👽
Unfortunately, in my opinion I think it’s a pretty important move to be able to do when being an aerialist.
Handstands are great for conditioning your body, they engage every muscle and help to you to gain awareness of yourself. Handstands work the abs, the hip flexors and the spinal muscles for balance, which all lead to having a strong and stable core.
Obviously holding a handstand position means having good upper body strength, which of course all us polers need. I recommend trying to do one handstand a day (holding the position for as long as you can, you could even challenge yourself and try to beat your previous time) and you’ll soon notice your shoulders, chest and back becoming stronger!
Don’t worry if you aren’t a confident hand-stander (yet!!) I will give you some more options below 😊
Great news though ladies and gents… according to Amy Cooper, an lyengar-trained yoga teacher, if you can hold a downward facing dog or plank position for more than 30 seconds without discomfort in the elbows or shoulders then you should be able to hold a handstand position! Plank pose is also great for familiarising your body with which muscles you need to engage to hold yourself in a handstand 🙂 so get practicing those planks!!
So what are the other benefits to handstands?
Well, not only are handstands super for your body, they can also be great for your mind!!
In yoga inversions play an important role; they can help to elevate moods, relieve headaches and even reduce minor depressions! This is because of gravity allowing blood and therefore more oxygen to flow to the head, this can in turn create an energising and calming effect, as well as reducing the production of the stress hormone cortisol!
If you’re not quite sold on handstands yet then here’s one more reason you should start practicing them, many yoga teachers say that inversions are like having a mini face lift!!! 💁
This is because being upside down helps stimulate blood flow to the face and increased circulation to the skin in the cheeks and forehead means oxygenation and therefore potential sustained youth of facial cells!! Do you even need any more reasons!? Just be careful not to hold your inversion for too long, I’d recommend no more than a minute if you are just beginning your handstand journey!
So how will this help you as a poler, well for me the obvious reasons are your improved balance and strength, especially as you progress onto hands only moves such as handsprings and straight edges.
I also feel that if you are not comfortable being upside down with your hands on the floor then how can you truly feel comfortable going upside down in the air!! Practicing your handstands can really help with inverting on the pole as you need to allow you head to come lower than the rest of your body, and this is true for not just basic inverts but also for handsprings, brass monkeys and cross ankle releases!
Finally for us polers, not only can handstands be beautiful as pole moves and help us to link moves together ( 📹 Handstand pickup 1 📹 Handstand footlock pick up 2) but they are also really helpful for when you need to get off the pole promptly! We’ve all done it, you go into a move pretty confidently and then you just don’t have the grip or you’ve totally forgotten what you were doing, you want to dismount quickly, if you have your handstand, getting yourself low enough to touch the floor means you should be able to handstand out, this can be from a variety of moves including inverts and cross ankle/knee releases!
📹📹 Handstand dismount
If you’re new to handstands as well as practicing your down dog and plank, the first way you should try getting into a handstand is by facing away from the wall, placing your hands on the floor and then walking your feet up the wall. For some people this may be enough so just keep practising walking your feet up and then back down the wall.
If your happy here you are now going to walk your hands in towards the wall, as you do you will need to take your feet higher, keep doing this until you can hold yourself in an upright position.
Remembering to keep your core tight and your arms locked, you want to spread your fingers as wide as you can to spread the weight across your hands, use your fingers to gain balance.
Next have ago at hand-standing against the wall so that your back is now resting on the wall.
📹📹Handstand against wall
Challenge yourself to hold this for about a minute, once you can do that have a go at pushing your feet slightly away from the wall so that you are in a free standing handstand! Be careful not to arch your back, keep in mind that plank positions and use your finger tips to control your balance!
From here you can start practicing your free standing handstand, make sure you have enough space around you, and I’d recommend trying this on a soft ground your first few times!
My personal goal is to now enter my handstands with more control and eventually be able to lift instead of stepping into a handstand!
Let me know how you get on with your handstands! And if you found any of this information useful!
Happy poling and handstands!
Peace & Pole everyone 🦄✌🏼