Yoga Inversion Basics

How to do Handstand and Forearm Stand

Here are some resources and general guidelines to help develop your yoga inversion practice. These guidelines are not absolutes as there are always variations with individuals. Remember that it’s the journey that matters and that there are no secrets, only little by little incremental work with regularity.

How do I practice?

There are three stages of handstand preparation. Treat these as separate events to be trained separately. How to practice these is explained below.
  1. Hopping practice
  2. Wall practice
  3. Balance practice

Where do I look?

In general, until your balance is rock-solid, look slightly forward and in between the hands

What do I do with my hands?

Hands will have a light gripping action and lift to the center of your palm. Fingers will move to help you balance.

What about my wrists?

What do I do with my feet?

In general, ‘floint’ your feet: halfway in between pointing and flexing. If you tend to overly backbend in an inversion, flex your feet. Due to the propensity to over backbend in forearm stand, flex your feet as a default in this pose.

What do I do with my shoulders?

When working on hopping up from a down-dog or dolphin pose split, let shoulders move forward of the wrists. When you are upside down and arms are overhead in these shapes, shoulder blades will spread outwards and lift up on the outer edge, with a slight pull down in the inner edge. Do not try to pull all of shoulder blades down towards ears as this contradicts the natural rhythm of the shoulderblades.

How do I fall?

To fall out of handstand, let one hand lift up when you feel that you are about to collapse. Avoid falling flat on your back. Fall to the side

Inversion Drills:

Blanket slides
Set up in a plank with your feet on a blanket (off your mat)
  1. From plank, slide knees in and out with breath.
  2. From plank, with one leg hovering, slide knees in and out with breath
  3. From plank, keep legs straight and pike hips up and down with breath.
  4. From plank, with one leg hovering, keep legs straight and pike hips up and down with breath.
Hopping Practice
  1. Start in a short down dog
  2. Rock shoulders forward of the wrists
  3. Raise one leg
  4. Lift the heel of the leg on the ground and bend that knee.
  5. Use the bent leg to hop hips straight up to get hips over shoulders to find beginnings of balance/handstand feeling
Wall Practice