How To Do Handstand Press (Video)

Handstand is super hard. Handstand press is even harder. When I first tried to press up into a handstand, I thought it would never happen. Even when someone helped me, I felt like I was permanently glued to the ground. It took five years from when I first started working on handstand before I started to feel the power to press up. When you're ready to start working on pressing up into handstand, you'll need a good road map for how to proceed.

1. Have faith. (Let your belief in yourself be founded on valid empirical data.)

In other words: be sure that you can jump into a handstand without the wall or someone to spot you before you start working on pressing up into handstand. If you don't build a solid foundation by jumping into handstand, then you won't have the courage to try the hard work of building up to a handstand press.

2. Do the humble work of building strength.

Try a static strength exercise to build endurance and alignment. Start off in a simple plank and walk your feet in towards your hands, leaving a few inches between them. Next, get the shoulder girdle firmly in place by protracting your shoulders, activating all the muscles of the rotator cuff, engaging latissimus dorsi and serratus anterior. Suck the lower belly inside and engage the transverse abdominals. Once these muscles are turned on, move your shoulders forward so that the deltoids are at least over the palms but not past the fingertips. Keep the arms super straight and avoid bending the elbows to bring the weight forward.

The key to handstand press is to shift the weight of your body forward while maintaining healthy alignment through the shoulders and activating the core muscles. If your shoulders collapse or retract, it's not safe to press up into handstand because the weight of your body will dump down into the joint capsule of the shoulder. You need to actively reach out with your arms the entire time that you are transferring the weight forward.

Hold this strength building exercise for at least a count of five and do it with straight legs, bent knees and with your legs spread wide apart. Once you feel a little movement forward, do not try to do it all in one go. Allow yourself to lift a little off the ground and feel a sense of weightlessness in your legs and feet.

Another great way to build up to this powerful movement is to use the exit from handstand as a strength building exercise. If you can jump up into a handstand, try lowering down from handstand as slowly as possible. Or, if you have the control go as far down as possible, and then instead of just hitting the floor lift back up to simulate the illusive handstand press.

3. Never give up or get frustrated with yourself.

When I was working on handstand press, I had to remind myself that yoga is about the inner journey, not the asana goal. I had to forgive myself for all the mistakes and disastrous attempts and just have fun with it. Once I learned how to relax and enjoy the process, the whole energy of the movement just started to flow.

You have to be determined to complete the journey and surrender to it, no matter how long it takes. But the journey itself is also the goal and you have to enjoy it just as much as getting the result.

I personally love that there are still movements in the yoga practice that are mysterious and magical to me because it means that I still have new places to discover within myself and my practice.

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