6 hours of handstands in 2 days!
In the past weekend, I’ve dived into all the details when it comes to handstand. I practiced for a total of 6 hours in 2 days! I can definitely feel it in my shoulders, arms and funnily enough, my legs too! The super experienced and talented handbalancer Yuval Ayalon was visiting Denmark. So his workshop was a must! Yuval calls handstanding an art form. When you dive into it, it seems that there never ceases to be new things to explore and learn when it comes to handstands.
I’m completely exhausted, whilst still having a sense of ease in my body after spending loads of time on my hands the past 2 days. But why is it we are doing handstands, really? To me there are a few different reasons for it. Not only does it feel like playing, standing on your hands and getting to feel weightless in the legs, turning upside down. It also requires a fairly large amount of focus, which means you don’t really have time to think about anything else. I’m totally focused and in the moment when I try to balance in a handstand. So for me, the handstand can actually become a form of meditation. It forces me to be completely present in the moment to avoid losing my balance.
Handstand as a form of meditation
In my opinion, what handstands and other new challenges (e.g. other yoga poses) does, it that they give us so much to focus on that we don’t have time for concern, planning or random trains of thought while doing them. Until our body gets so used to that movement pattern that we are relaxed enough to think about anything else in the pose. But at that point there are always one-armed handstands to explore or more advanced asanas (yoga poses), which yet again can help keep us present. 😛 And I simply think that you become a happier person by playing and exploring movement and when you clear up your thoughts and become fully present as often as possible. Whether you do it by balancing on your hands, practicing yoga or another way, it will have the same effect.
The take-home message from the weekend
To sum up the main point of what I learned this past weekend:
Handstand is a type of specialized skill, which takes consistent (almost) daily practice to really notice progress in and properly learn. It’s better to divide the practice into several chunks during the week than practicing once a week for a longer period of time. That’s because it takes time for the body to adjust to the new movement pattern, you’re trying to learn. So if you’re only practicing once a week it’s going to take so much longer to adjust!
This point can actually be applied to a lot of things in life! E.g. learning to play a new instrument or learning to speak a new language. When it comes to handstand you also minimise risks of injuring your wrists and shoulders, by practicing regularly in shorter chunks of time. This allows your body to slowly build the necessary strength and avoids overuse of the muscles and joints in question.
My personal handstand practice
My own handstand skills have seen nearly no progress for 2 years up until recently. This last month I have chosen to spend much more time on my hands. Just 10-20 minutes 3-6 times a week and I can really feel the difference it has made! If you follow me on instagram, you may have seen that last monday I held my longest free straight handstand – 25 seconds! My balance has also improved enough, so I can now play with different leg positions in the handstand (on the good days 😉).
I really want to continue improving this skill. My goal for the next month is to practice handstand at least 3-5 times a week for 20 minutes.
Things I want to work on:
- Entrance to handstand – practice kicking up into handstand. I’m doing this with the hopes of achieving a better successrate for finding the balance on the first try.
- Long holds in free handstand – spend more time on my hands to work on balance, endurance, and mucle memory.
- Exit from handstand – build strength to one day achieve a press handstand. I’m doing this by practicing lots of compression strength drills and working on negative presses.