6 Tips to Balance in Handstand

Almost no yoga pose brings as invigorating, fun and light-hearted joy as balancing in handstand. When you can’t balance, though, it’s frustrating!

Many a yogic practitioner gets stuck at the wall in Handstand, but there are several things you can do to make balancing easier. Here are a few of my favorites…

Handstand at Glacier Point, Yosemite National Park

Handstand at Glacier Point

1. Stretch Your Legs and Hips First

A crucial component to balancing in handstand is to stack your center of gravity—in this case, your pelvis—over your hands.

Without limberness in the legs and hips, kicking or hopping up is much more difficult.

A few great yoga poses to open the legs and hips are: uttanasana (standing forward fold), adho mukha shvanasana (downward dog), parsvottanasana (pyramid pose) and supta padangusthasana (reclining hand to big toe pose).

2. Squeeze Your Legs Straight

Once you get up into handstand, you absolutely must bring your legs together and straighten them if you want to balance.

Floppy legs and separated feet make handstand feel heavy and compresses the workload down into your arms.

Instead, create more length and lightness in the pose: power up your legs by squeezing them strongly together and reach like crazy for the sky.

3. Work Your Hands and Feet

What you do with your hands and feet makes a huge impact on how long and how easily you can balance in handstand. Your weight will shift slightly between the fingers and from finger tips to heels of the hands as you absorb fluctuations in your balance. Allow for this movement, but keep pressing down with each finger tip and all four corners of your palms so your foundation is stable.

Your feet mirror your hands in handstand and can be used like flippers to slow down the normal oscillations that occur when you’re balancing upside down. In the pose, act as if your feet are on the ceiling, doing exactly what your hands are doing on the ground.

4. Focus Your Vision

In yoga, drishti is what we call the focus of your gaze. If your eyes dart this way and that, it’s a sign your mind is wandering, and balance will be challenging. Instead, place your drishti on the ground in between your hands, but slightly out in front of them, making an equilateral triangle where your hands form the bottom two points and your focal point, the top. If you tuck your chin and look between your arms it’s almost guaranteed that you’ll fall into a summersault.

Arm_Balances_cover25. Practice Other Arm Balances

What you learn from other arm balances informs your handstand practice. Everything from how to engage your core, to the art of shifting your weight over your hands can be experimented with in poses that are closer to the ground and, often, feel less scary.

While each arm balance offers something slightly different, the totality of your experience with them will boost your confidence and help you in getting closer to balancing in handstand.

For more on these yoga poses, check out my recently published eBook: “Unlocking Arm Balances in Four Simple Steps.” Click the image to find out more.

6. Learn to Fall Safely

Nothing, when it comes to balancing in handstand, will shut you down faster than the fear of falling. To keep your motivation high and your body safe, learn to cartwheel or pirouette out of handstand without falling flat on your back.

If you overshoot the pose, begin to shift your weight slightly more into one hand —whichever one feels most natural. Then, the trick is to rotate your pelvis and windmill the legs over, one at a time. Here’s a video to help!