Chasing Handstands

The first time I got a freestanding handstand, I think I shrieked out loud. And fell over.

Handstands are one of my favorite yoga poses. Partly because it’s a pose I thought I would never get when I first started to practice — I had zero gymnastics skills. Six years later, I am strong enough to hold them in the middle of the room. Still, the pose remains elusive. Some days it’s there, some days it’s not. Recently, I’ve been working on getting strong enough for a press-up handstand, i.e. no jumping or hopping to get into the handstand. When I saw my CrossFit gym was offering a handstand workshop, I signed up, hoping for some new tips or tools.

Along came handstand teacher . When he told us he has a circus and gymnastics background, I knew I was in good hands.

After warming us up through some handstand basics, we moved into fun territory, like tucking up into a freestanding handstand. I’ve been working on tucking up for awhile now, and Adrian gave me some tips to work a baby press-up handstand. He assured me my hips were in the right place and this was possible. It was easier to believe him than to execute said baby press-up.

After exhausting myself, I gravitated toward some of the guys working one-handed handstands. Yup, you heard me right. We used small wood blocks under our hands, walked our legs up against the wall and did a straddle. Once in place,  we had to shift our legs to one side and get our weight onto one arm, come up to fingertips on the other hand while keeping the shoulder fully extended and tested our balance to lift the one hand. Intense? Hell yes.

Jeremiah working the blocks at Rocket CrossFit

Adrian also came over and assisted me into my first ever one-arm handstand on the floor. If it’s possible to feel shock and awe at the same time, it is during this pose. Holy cow and hallelujah.

Adrian taught us some other tricks, including arm-balancing on handstand canes. Fun!

One day, I will extend my left arm forward in this balance.

We finished with three more minute-handstand holds against the wall. I think I have met my match in Adrian.

I love all the tips I learned. I’m also more determined than ever to get the press. Before the workshop, I knew I needed to add some regular strengthening to get a press, and I haven’t been doing it. Adrian says it takes about a year and a half. My new plan is to work handstands every day for 10 minutes. It’s on.

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