When you scroll through Instagram’s infinite number of impressive handstand vids, what you don’t see is all the strengthening work and practice that leads up to actually going upside down. But this week, Cortney Ostrosky, yoga teacher and self-discovery coach posted a slideshow of strengthening exercises to help you *finally* gain the strength you need to nail the inversion—including a killer variation on chair pose.
“The last video is holding chair pose, breathing, and practicing opening up your hands and fingers fully then closing them into a tight fist for 60 seconds. Go fast and strong here!,” she writes in a comment on the post. “It seems simple but is highly effective—your hands and arms will be on fire by the end of this!” And since you’re in chair pose—which is basically just a yoga-fied squat—your legs an core will be burning, too.
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Yesterday I got the most requests for “Handstand tips for beginners” – so this one’s for you! These videos are simple but effective and will support you in creating a solid foundation for handstand. The first video is a traditional Sun Salutation. This is a great sequence for prepping your body for handstand. Practice this sequence 5+ times to warm up your body, strengthen your arms, build awareness on your hands + to strengthen your core. Bonus: You can practice hopping to the top of your mat + even if your feet leave the floor for just 1 second – you have technically successfully completed a handstand! Once you’ve done several rounds of Sun Sal’s I recommend practicing the L-Shape handstand at the wall, this is very safe + beginner friendly (you can find a L-Shape Handstand tutorial in my story highlights). Maybe you start at 15 seconds, then practice holding it every day for 15 seconds until you notice your stamina + strength increase. Then set your timer for 30 seconds + practice that for a while, then increase to 45 + so on. This is how I developed my handstand practice – by timing myself at the wall. I worked up to 2 minutes. If you’re new to handstand the most important thing is to get on your yoga mat everyday! Make sure you’re taking yoga classes regularly because they’re going to help you develop strength, body awareness + muscle memory which is necessary for handstand. Bonus: Ask your teacher for handstand assists, alignment cues + tips! The second video is to practice flowing from Down Dog to Plank several times, then practice holding plank + Side Plank – all three are amazing prerequisites for handstand! The third video is an L-Shape core work out. Make a 90 degree angle with your legs + pulse up 5x, switch your legs, pulse up 5x then scissor your legs as your bring opposite shoulder towards opposite knee. Focus on hugging the navel in + up + exhaling every time you twist. We need a strong core to hold handstand, but there are lots of other health benefits to having a strong core (I’ll save that for another post). . Continued in comments below 👇🏽👇🏽👇🏽 #handstand108
The yogini adds that unlike poses like chaturanga or downward dog, this move won’t place any strain on your wrists. “Firing up your hands in this way is beneficial because it’s a no-impact way to strengthen the large and small muscles in the forearms and hands. It creates strength and stamina without compressing the wrists,” she tells me.
Once your minute is up, Ostrosky recommends shaking out those hands to release your muscles. Just think: Pretty soon, you’ll be doing the whole move…upside down!
To work your entire core the yogi-way, try these 5 moves. And if you’re sick of cat cows, switch your practice up with these variations.
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