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3 Foundational Inversions That Will Help Your Handstand

Handstand has become one of those flashy pinnacle postures that everyone is interested in. And look, I get it, because they’re fun. But also I have to say that people seem to forget about the most foundational inversions that can help them get to handstand with a little more ease. 

What’s the point of inversions? 

Well, for one, they allow the blood to rush to the head, which is beneficial for most of us given that we sit or stand A LOT during the day. Like other postures, inversions also help build strength, flexibility, and balance. 

Beyond the physical, inversions help us with the concept of “flipping our perspective,” which can aid in expanding our mindset to better understand other people’s opinions, or ways of thinking. 

Because going upside down typically evokes fear for most people, inversions also have this wonderful ability to build confidence, by building both mental and physical strength in order to face those fears.

Have I sold you on inversions yet? Great! Now you can try this round up of yoga inversions for beginners and yoga teachers, alike. 

Try my How To Handstand series to get more comfortable going upside down. 

Check out these twisting yoga poses to help your inversion yoga practice. 

3 Foundational Inversions That Will Help Your Handstand

Foundational Inversions

It’s no secret that when you practice inversions you’re going to build upper body strength, help your lymphatic system by boosting blood circulation, strengthen your core, and reduce stress by soothing your nervous system. 

Yes, there are a ton of benefits with inversion yoga poses. But there are also reasons to avoid these postures, as well. 

If you have high blood pressure, then you’ll want to steer clear of strong inversions like Shoulder Stand, Headstand, and Forearm Stand. You’ll also want to avoid inversions if you have vertigo, or severe balance issues. 

The good news is that gentle, foundational inversions are often still accessible even to people who are advised to avoid the deeper inversions. 

Beyond this round up of 3 foundation inversions to help with handstand, you should also try Legs Up The Wall for a more restorative option. 

Remember, inversions don’t have to mean big shapes like Handstand or Pincha. It can also mean more foundational postures like Child’s Pose, Bridge Pose, Forward Fold, and Downward Facing Dog.

Learn how to invert with me in my How To Handstand series

Standing Forward Fold

There are plenty of arm or hand variations that you can play around with your fold, but this version will be a classic standing fold. 

Stand with your feet at hip width distance, or closer if you’d like a deeper hamstring stretch. Bend as much as you need in your knees, and take an inhale to lift your arms up and overhead. With your exhale, swan dive fold keeping your back flat and knees soft as you descend. Keep breathing. 

Once you’re folded, let the hand hang by the sides, or grab your outer legs or ankles. Shift the weight forward in your feet to play with the balance, and tug down through your heels to maintain activation in the flexibility. 

Work on lifting your hips up and over your knees, your knees up and over your ankles. 

Lift your low belly up and in, using the deep pelvic activation to fold from your belly strength, RATHER than pulling your upper body over your legs with the strength of your arm. 

Stay here for as long as you can, getting comfortable with the sensation of blood rushing to your head. 

3 Foundational Inversions That Will Help Your Handstand

Downward Facing Dog

Utilize your time in Downward Facing Dog to get used to the blood rushing to your head. Also use this time to work on building more hand and wrist strength for handstands.

Start on all fours with your toes tucked underneath you, and your hands firmly planted. Take an inhale here, and press into your hands and feet firmly. 

With your exhale, find Downward Facing Dog as you lift your knees off the mat, and lift your hips skyward.  Try to straighten as much as you can into the legs. Keep breathing. 

From here, look at your feet making sure they’re as wide as your hips or wider if you’re tight in the hamstrings and/or low back. Your knees can bend a little or a lot here, working on tilting your tailbone directly up towards the sky. 

Keep the gaze where it is so the entire spine is long. Lift your belly up and in to turn on pelvic floor engagement. 

Bring the awareness to your hands, and work on sending the weight to the fleshy space between your first finger and thumb, rather than spiraling outward into the pinkies. 

Then, claw into the mat with all 10 fingers. This hand grip and wrist awareness will help with your handstand. 

3 Foundational Inversions That Will Help Your Handstand

Standing Splits

Standing Splits is a great entry point into Handstand, so it’s worth refining before you get started with your Handstand kicks.

Start in a Standing Forward Fold, and take an inhale to lift your right foot off the mat, sending it towards the sky. Keep your leg lifted, and as you exhale, fold a little more deeply over your left leg. Keep breathing. 

It’s super important here to activate the right foot and leg as much as possible. That means you light up the toes with flex, point, or floint- the foot activation will turn on the calf. 

Lift the right knee cap toward your hip to engage the right thigh. Actively drive your right heel up and overhead in order to turn on the right hamstring. The more active the right leg is, the easier it will feel to control floating in space. 

Spill the weight as far forward in your left foot as you can, while still keeping the left heel plugged in. Turn on your low belly to fold over the left thigh. 

Make sure you switch it out, and lift your leg on the other side. 

3 Foundational Inversions That Will Help Your Handstand

Let me know which posture has helped your inversion practice the most in the comments below. 

Better yet, check out my How To Handstand series for more personalized instruction along your inversion journey. 

xx, 

K

3 Foundational Inversions That Will Help Your Handstand
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