Mastering an inversion is like qualifying for a black belt of yoga. But getting to the point where you’re comfortable with your feet off the ground high above your head can be challenging, to say the least. Although handstands look effortless, they require perfect balance, core and shoulder strength, and a lot of focus.
That being said, once you get the trick, floating up into a handstand or forearm stand becomes second-nature. Someone who knows this all too well is our yogi-crush Caley Joyner. She’s no stranger to being upside down. In fact, she’s unwittingly become the “Handstand Queen” of Los Angeles! Take a look at her Instagram grid and you’ll understand why—the woman has mad skills. But she wasn’t born this way—Joyner worked hard for years to master inversions, and totally understands how frustrating it can be to always fall out of a handstand in class … or just be too afraid to even give it a try.
Here, she leads us through nine exercises that’ll help you get into a handstand (or any inversion!) in no time.
1. High Plank
Helps you to engage your core and learn how to stack your shoulders over your wrists. Make sure not to sway your lower back! Think tailbone to heels and pubic bone to belly button.
Not many people know this but downward facing dog is technically an inversion because your hips are over your head! This position helps prep you for handstand as it strengthens & aligns your upper body.
3. Three-Legged Dog
Lifting one leg in down dog helps to give you more extension and elongation, it’s also a good way to mentally prepare for beginning to jump up into your hand stands.
4. Warrior Three
Great for core strength and for working on getting used to the feeling of moving your energy back through your heel and forward through the palms of your hands. You’ll need this balance in a handstand!
5. Forearm Plank
Fantastic for strengthening your shoulders, upper arms, and core. This pose is the perfect prep for Dolphin.
This one can be a doozy for anyone with tight shoulders, hamstrings, and/or back (typically most men.) Try to keep your elbows shoulders distance apart, the wider they go the harder it can be on your shoulder girdle.
7. Three-Legged Dolphin
Make sure your shoulders don’t go in front of the elbows here! Keeping those shoulders stacked will help you to build strength and stability in this position. Lifting one leg will give you the extension and elongation you’ll need in your inversion.
8. Squat Jump Backs
Once you have mastered the basics, it’s time to play! Try jumping up from a squatting position, and see if you can get your hips stacked over your shoulders. No need to straighten your legs as you will land right back in your squatting position. Keep those arms straight, this is not a push-up 😉
Keep your hips in neutral rotation, and imagine a hallowing out of your belly. It also helps to start by keeping one knee bent, and the other leg straight like Super Woman Stack your shoulders over your wrists, hips over shoulders, and everything else will (hopefully!) magically fall into place.
Photo credit: Ja Tecson