Sports FAQ
Home / Yoga

Progressing with handstand?

AnahataAnanda2010-07-04 13:33:36 +0000 #1

I have recently built a deep desire to achieve a handstand in the middle of the room. I am able to do it near the wall but always freak out when i dont have a wall near me. Ive been able to move a little further away from the wall so that i could have some support if i lose my balance but not relying on it completely. Im wondering what the number one thing required to develop strength in, in order to master handstands and arm balances? i think i have the arm strength, and always figured i had quite a bit of core strength but cannot get into handstand without kicking up and allowing momentum to take me there. Any ideas or suggestions on how i can work on that? Blessings!
siva2010-07-04 13:49:48 +0000 #2
Dear anahata,

Number 1 thing? Don't give up.

There is a lot of technique involved. Are you in pike position or legs apart? Are you doing a good crow? Good hand strength?

I've written in past threads the way I do it and you could probably find it if you seach. That is, as you say, without momentum or kicking up. That's very important. Good for you!

It's all about rotation. You rotate inwardly in the upper-body, from the arms into the chest and abs, then outwardly into the tailbone and sacrum from the hip flexors, glutes and hamstrings. Also, visual that point where your feet are going to end up at the top. Try doing it with your head down and your neck relaxed. Find a focal point on your horizon, not looking at the floor. You'll need your head and neck to be free once you get to the top to help you keep your balance. No holding your breath.

If I could see your setup, your hands and feet position, your breathing, your head position, etc., it would be easy to see what comes next. I'm in Richmond, I'd be happy to meet you sometime. Otherwise, just know that it is possible for you and keep working.


mikesbytes2010-07-04 13:57:06 +0000 #3
Hi Anahata,

Wow, handstand that's impressive. I just wanted to clarify, by handstand you mean on the elbows with the head not touching the ground. If that's the case I'm assuming that you have mastered the basic headstand?
InnerAthlete2010-07-04 13:59:41 +0000 #4
Two things.

One, if you are already doing Adho Mukha Vrksasana at the wall then it is likely you've already developed the "number one thing" for doing the pose.

Two, the musculoskeletal system is a synergistic system. Therefore there could not be a "number one thing".
AnahataAnanda2010-07-04 13:56:21 +0000 #5

Thank you all for your responses.

Siva, great to meet a fellow Richmonder on here. I usually kick up to the wall. I do a very good bakasana but still have not been able to master Eka pada bakasana. Thank you for the tips

Mikesbytes, i was talking about a general adho mukha vrksasana.

InnerAthlete, i definitely agree. Ive been having trouble figuring out what im doing wrong. I fell a big thing thats standing in the way of me getting into a handstand is that i fear falling down.
InnerAthlete2010-07-04 15:12:36 +0000 #6
It is good to know those things (the fear, in this case)...then let them go.

While many make the poses about doing, accomplishment, achievement and the like, the foundation of asana is the experience for the practitioner. As long as you are exploring, discovering, and aspiring it makes little or no difference whether you do this pose or that pose either at the wall, in the middle of the floor, jumping up, or slowly rising through the engagement of the abdominals - presuming the doing is heightening your awareness and not doing harm.

So while this is a valuable thing to explore it is, at the same time a "so what".
Pandara2010-07-04 16:30:09 +0000 #7

Originally Posted by AnahataAnanda


I have recently built a deep desire to achieve a handstand in the middle of the room.


Slay the dragon of desire, which is in truth attachment and ego, and the rest will follow naturally.
siva2010-07-04 15:19:59 +0000 #8

I respect and enjoy your posts which are generally conscientious and well intended, however in this context your statement is too fluffy to be helpful. Perhaps you may want to clarify.

As I undertstand it, the "desire" for action is not a dragon to be slayed at all, but rather is raja itself and is in this case the strength of Anahata's spirit. The "dragon" is attachement to it's outcome, or "fruit of that action" as Krishna puts it.

We have to distinguish non-attachment from non-action lest we fall into tamas and complacency. So to anahata or anyone out there with this kind of passion I would say, with the accomplishment of your handstand, say so what, but until then...YOU GO FOR IT! Because Arjun, nothing comes naturally without action!

Hubert, what do you think?

peace and love,

Pandara2010-07-04 16:47:21 +0000 #9
Dear Siva,

thank you for asking me to clarify and I would kindly do so. When awareness grows in one's consciousness that desire is attachment, I find that it is replaced by something more beautiful and meaningful, namely motivation. Whereas desire lacks discernment or viveka, motivation carries inherently in it discernment and it has the power to lead one to non-desire, but calmly abide and allow yourself to flow naturally into what needs to happen (which is the action required), be it any asana or related yoga practice you want to do.

Anahata, by no means do I say you should not want to or have the desire to do the handstand, what I am trying to say perhaps is contemplate your motivation behind the desire, an asana doesn't happen just on one level, i think you know by now that much more than just the physical aspect is involved.

Trust this clarifies it for everybody concerned and apologise if my initial response was "too fluffy".
AnahataAnanda2010-07-04 16:39:28 +0000 #10

I thank you for your reply. I agree that desire can sometimes lead to suffering because there can be attachment involved, however, i think i mostly side with Siva here. On a completely personal level, i feel that desire is what drives us to accomplishment. It is through desire that we achieve. I would like to know your approach to accomplishment through non-desire. Better yet, how do you discern between desire and motivation? How do you get motivation without desire?
Pandara2010-07-04 18:27:28 +0000 #11
Namaste Anahata,

Desire remains, as you have pointed out as well, the main cause of suffering in our lives. I know it is difficult not to have desire, because what else drives motivation in us then? The simple answer for me is inspiration. That is how I discern between desire and motivation. For example I look at the teachings of Swami Sivanada and it inspires me, which is the motivation behind my spiritual life. Do I desire his life or to be like him? No, by no means do I want to be him or become like him, it just motivates (read also inspire) me to unfold in my own way.

So, instead of having the desire to do the handstand, ask yourself rather what inspires you to do the handstand? I am sure you will notice the difference.
Hubert2010-07-04 17:22:30 +0000 #12
To answer Siva's question: I often find myself performing actions out of desire. Usually, it depletes some of the momentum behind the action ... why ?

Because most of the time, desire is built on subconscious impulses, and those impulses are much more powerful than our conscious choices. When we relize that behind an action, there is something what we don't really know, that scares us a bit, and a part of us revolts. Consciousness revolts and says, I refuse to be the slave of some power I do not know.

THis is not yet realizing and surfacing the psychic energy of the action, it just relaizing it's unknown origin. This makes it less powerful ... but this is function of our level of awarness. Awarness changes during the day, under as effect of outer (sensorial) influences, focus shifts, so when awarness drops, the power of desire increases again. The real cause, some buried, hidden expereince, or a powerful archetype, usually is not recognized, or revealed.

I made this explanation in terms of psychoanalysis. This does not mean it is just as I wrote, but represents the process well.

The levels of subconscious, unconscious, collective counsciousness, as terms of this field, might just as well be seen as "entities" of a spiritual world. An archetype can be identified with an angel, or devi.

In a way, I like the traditional approach better, because it can be reconciled with the materialist science with greater difficulty, and that in my eyes, is a good thing. ( I acknowledge scientific experiments and their palpable results, but I discard themain hypothesis' they build on them)

The question is not if it's good or bad to be under the influence of a certain desire, but where that desire takes us. There is a reason someone goes to yoga practice. There is a reason someone wants to perform handtsand in the middle of the room. The reasons can be many. Usually they are not that elevating motives as we would like to think.

But this again is because we differentiate high and low ... the lowest things in our life bear the signature of the greatest spiritual powers. We are the ones what make some of these shameful, misuse them, classify them as reproachable with our narrow minds.

Everyone is right. What for Pandara is inspiration, for another man it is just raw desire. For a saint, everything is sacred, and for a sinner everything is dirty. Personal karma unfolds by the power of the carried desires ... it is vane to think that with our human mind and consciousness level, we are able to asess and quickly master our fate. It is a slow process, and most of it is scripted better than we are able to understand. For our benefit, I must add.
AnahataAnanda2010-07-04 17:57:20 +0000 #13

Pandara, that was a great explanation. Ive always struggled with the concept of desire=suffering because its hard for me to comprehend a life without desire. It makes total sense that desire has a final goal. Inspiration/motivation are just ways to progress. Im a little more clear on the idea now, however, it seems like a very difficult thing to accomplish, organically. How have you come to this realization?



Other posts in this category