During this video, Ben Lowrey will explain and demonstrate many popular Handstand shapes and spotting techniques to the participants. You will hear people’s questions being answered throughout the video.
This video focuses on finding balance in different Handstand shapes whilst working in pairs. Wall exercises and stretching technique are not part of this tutorial.
Most of the participants are Yoga orientated, but some participants also have backgrounds in Dance, Circus, Gymnastics, and AcroYoga. It is recommended that you have at least 1 year of experience with Yoga or fitness before attempting to handstand.
This workshop is suitable for beginners but you should only attempt the exercises if you can already crow, headstand, and handstand against a wall for at least 10 seconds. It is recommended that you practise with a friend so you can spot each other safely.
This video will give you a glimpse into Ben Lowrey’s relaxed approach to teaching Handstands, and how he simplifies and demystifies the process.
Flexibility is very important and it is recommend that you attend yoga or stretch classes regularly to improve your overall flexibility. Mobile shoulders are the key to a straight handstand.
WARNING: This video contains major TRUTH BOMBS which may cause your Yoga teacher to weep.
For some reason, core strength gets used as the default answer to everything. There is a strange obsession around this topic which can feel a little cult-like at times.
I have a mental image of hundreds of zombies with their arms outstretched saying “core… core….need more core”
As people become more masterful in a skill (Dance, Gymnastics, Hand-balancing) they tend to refer to “core strength” less frequently as they come to realise it’s just one of many factors which are all important.
Standing normally does not require a great deal of core strength because the body weight is stacked vertically through the skeleton. A Handstand is no different, except it’s upside down.
Shoulder strength and shoulder mobility are much more important factors for Handstands.
The shoulders are the base of the handstand, and they bare the most burden.
Strength people (bodybuilders, climbers, crossfit) are often limited by tight shoulders (which won’t go straight with the spine) and this is what stops them from accomplishing a handstand. (See my tutorial on handstand shapes circoplex.com/videos)
What they need to do is to spend time stretching their shoulders back to improve their alignment.
Flexible people are often unstable because they lack shoulder strength.
What they need to do is strengthen those shoulder to create a more stable handstand base.
Neither of those groups suffer from a lack of core strength.
You may think the “press” to handstand is one move which DOES require core strength and you would still be wrong. (See my other tutorial on this circoplex.com/videos)
This tutorial will explain why some handstand shapes are easier than others.
It helps for us to identify the 3 most important angles:
There are very simple reasons why some handstand shapes are more comfortable than others. The more flexible you are, the more choice you will have about where to position your body. The tighter you are, the more limited those options will be.
In order to balance, your centre of gravity must be over your hands. If one part of your body is one way, another part of your body must counterbalance it by being in the opposite direction.
Our body will tuck into a ball naturally, but it cannot open out into a back arch with the same ease.
The shoulder angle and back bend are the major limiting factors in the shapes we can achieve.
If our legs tuck to our tummy in handstand, our bum will have to stick out in the opposite direction to counterbalance it, but in order to support that back arch, our shoulders/back will have to arch open, and a lack of flexibility may not allow that to happen. The result is, the tuck is not possible for people who are tight.
If we let one or both legs hang over our head, the opposite will be true, this will be more comfortable for people with tight shoulders because it will counterbalance the closed shoulder angle.
When you begin, it’s easier to let your legs hang over the top. Point your toes so you don’t look like a jackass.
It feels great to float from downward dog to forward fold whilst practising Yoga, which is why I created this short video to give you some exercises to work on.
As with most movements – a combination of strength and flexibility is required. If you have less of one, you will need more of the other to make up the difference.
People with great shoulder mobility and forward fold will be able to position their weight nicely over their hands without relying so much on strength, and people with very strong shoulders will be able to use brute force to support their bodyweight without relying so much on form or alignment.
Any time your arms leave the vertical position and lean forward (planching forward) then shoulder strength will be required to support that lean.
Jo trained as a dancer at Trinity Laban and as a yoga teacher (200 hrs training) with the School of Yoga Institute. She has over 10 years dance teaching experience and 2.5 years of yoga teaching in Winchester. Her class is energetic and flowing. Jo also loves aerial hoop classes!
Jo taught for Circoplex as part of a Handstand + Yoga special event in September 2018.