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Regularly practiced in yoga, the handstand is a challenging pose that contains numerous benefits. Among them are strengthening shoulders, arms, wrists and core. Additionally, "Yoga Journal" reports that handstands can help to ease the mind, reduce stress and relieve mild depression. Once you have mastered a traditional handstand, you can advance your practice by incorporating tricky and fun variations such as performing a split while balancing upside down.
Position yourself in downward facing dog by placing your palms flat on the floor, 1 to 2 inches from the wall, shoulder-width apart and fingers pointing toward the wall. Spread your palms and press the base of your index finger into the ground. Turn your index fingers slightly outward if you have tight shoulders. Engage your abdominal muscles and lift your hips toward the ceiling as you plant your feet on the ground so that your body makes the shape of an inverted V.
Slide your shoulder blades down your back. Rotate your arms inward; this will broaden your back and provide a steady base for your handstand. Press your thumb and forefinger into the floor to help with stability.
Bend the left knee and step the left foot in towards the wall while you keep the right leg fully extended. Push through your left foot to launch your lower body off of the ground; sweep your right leg up towards the wall, followed by the left leg so that you are upside down. Extend both legs up the wall as you balance on your hands. Push through your heels to elongate your legs.
Fix your alignment once you are upside down. Stack your hips over your shoulders. Pull your stomach in toward your lower back and tilt the tailbone toward your feet. Continue to press the shoulder blades down your back. Press the outer thighs together, isometrically, to help with alignment and balance. Gaze towards the center of the room to maintain proper head and neck alignment.
Move to the center of the room once you are comfortable performing handstands at the wall. Give yourself plenty of clear space for practicing to avoid hitting anything should you tip over. Focus on the abdominal engagement to maintain your balance. Use the help of a spotter if you are having trouble making a transition from the wall to the center of the room.
Balance in your handstand in the center of the room. Split your legs apart, moving one forwards and one backwards, keeping them fully extended at all times. Maintain stability during the split by continuing to press your hands into the floor and contracting your stomach muscles. Aim to lower your legs until they are both parallel to the floor.
Hold the split for 10 to 15 seconds; gradually work your way up to 60 seconds as you become stronger.
- Come out of a handstand by reversing the steps; slowly lower your left foot toward the floor, with the right following, using controlled movements. Avoid dropping out of the pose and on to the floor, which may cause an injury.
- Seek the assistance of a certified yoga teacher if you are having trouble mastering a split while in a handstand. A yoga teacher can help you with form, alignment and execution.