What are your resolutions this year? If you’re like many people, you’ve got a goal in mind: lose weight, make a change in your job or relationships, treat yourself better, or otherwise embark on an Operation: Transformation!
I’m posting today to help you do all these things right here and now. By learning my Core Handstand, then integrating it into your regular practice, you’ll tone and trim, learn balance and alignment and gain courage. Suddenly the regular handstand will be a snap, and in much less time than you might think. Practice this, and you’ll become stronger in all your other poses too.
In life, yogis strive not to overrun the lessons at hand or neglect to enjoy the present moment in favor of rushing to the goal. If you’re not invested in the journey itself and find value in it for its own sake, you can lose faith.
I see yoga classes swell during January as everyone’s goal powers their commitment, and one month later as life gets in the way, they let their goals drift away. I want you to find power in everything you do, whether you’re “there” yet…or not. Why wait?
The yogi re-orients her perception of what success is. Success becomes any moment lived in full alignment with the best in ourselves, expressing from the joy of the heart and strength of center.
On the yogis’s path, you live from the heart, and in alignment with your integrity every day. And more often than not, this will lead you straight into meeting your goal, since goals are only great things that happen along the way because of all our daily choices that came before.
The following practice teaches you to move toward something without becoming over-focused on the end result. When you can practice these challenging poses from the ground up for their own sake, you might surprise yourself to find that you’re already there. Core Handstand Preparations, Shiva Hops and wall work all teach you to connect to your foundation and center before expressing into the full pose, whichever variation you’re in. But the energetic, strengthening and flexibility benefits are the same as when you make it into the full pose.
Focus on the work at hand and, before you know it, you’ll get “there”…by being completely “here”, now.
CORE HANDSTAND PRACTICE
Your abdominals are much stronger when you breathe out, so make sure that when you hop up, it’s on the exhale.
Remember the old yogic saying “Repetition is Magic”. If you’re building strength, or a handstand seems like a distant dream, take heart: begin slower and lower, and gain strength as you go. Do these poses in order, concentrating on arm stability first, then core strength as you take little hops. Do hundreds of these. Over time, go a little farther than before, and you’ll be sure to progress.
Come to hands and knees facing the wall. Plant your hands about a foot away so you have ample headroom with shoulders over wrists. Point the middle finger forward, wrist creases parallel to the front of the mat. Keep your arms integrated naturally into the body.
CORE HANDSTAND PREPARATION:
From Hands and Knees, tuck your toes underneath you and ground all 10 fingertips evenly down to fire up your arm muscles. Lift your navel into the spine, and from the arm and core strength, lift your hips and knees off of the floor. Maintain the shoulders over your wrists and breathe.
Take 5-10 breaths here, then fold into Child’s Pose. Repeat 1-3 times. If possible, return to Core Handstand Preparation and continue to the next pose.
LOW SHIVA HOPS:
From Core Handstand Preparation, walk your feet together. Big toe mounds press to activate the inner thighs. Keep shoulders directly over wrists, fingertips active. Your gaze is focused on the area just in front of your thumbs at center.
Exhale to hop lightly, heels move toward the sitting bones. Learn to keep the arms unwavering, like the constant Shiva energy, while the rest of you moves through the low hops. Remember, if you let your shoulders swing back and forth, the pose will also be unstable. Keep them firmly in place.
This was where my journey stopped for a year. I did these hops hundreds of times. But wow—was I strong after that. And suddenly, all my inversions, arm balances and vinyasas got a whole lot easier! So…hop, hop, hop to freedom.
Take 5 hops here, then fold into Child’s Pose. Repeat 1-3 times. If possible, return to Core Handstand Preparation and continue to the next pose.
HIGH SHIVA HOPS:
After enough repetitions of the Low Hops, in time you’ll be ready for these. Set it up the same as before, but make sure your arms stay drawn into the shoulder joints, shoulder blades naturally on the back. If your arms reach out too far, you’ll lock yourself out of full range of motion. So integrate, keep your heart open, and on the exhales, hop higher over your straight arms. Eventually, hips will come to hover over the arms in the air. Repetition thus becomes magic.
Take 5 hops here, then fold into Child’s Pose. Repeat 1-3 times. If you come up over your hips, progress to the next pose.
WALL HIP STACK:
If your hips stack over the arms, immediately keep your knees bent and touch the balls of the feet lightly to the wall. Straightening the legs here will override your pelvic movement. Your hips will likely be tilted into a lower back arch, so you must re-stack them over the torso and arms again.
Curl your tailbone towards the sky, draw your navel to the spine, and lower ribs move towards the navel as if rounding the mid and lower back, but with an open heart. Your sit bones should shift away from the wall. Hold this alignment with your navel strength.
Come down and rest or progress to the next pose.
ONE LEGGED CORE HANDSTAND:
Again, if you move the legs into the full pose too fast, it can pull you out of your core strength, from where this pose is directed. Holding your pelvic alignment, press your knees together and extend one leg toward the sky. Work to keep the arms firm, navel tacking in, and tailbone long.
Come down and rest or progress to the next pose.
FULL CORE HANDSTAND:
Directing the pose from your navel strength, your bent leg’s foot should begin to hover lightly away from the wall. At this point, slowly lift that leg to match the other, and drive the pose into balance through adjustments at the navel, low ribs, strong arms and fingertips. Ground into the earth, reach for the sky, and hold center at the horizon in-between.
Come down and rest in Child’s Pose for one minute or more.