Yoga for Strong Abs & Arms
These yoga poses will have you strong enough to do a handstand in no time.
If you’re a more seasoned yogi and looking to take your practice up a notch, handstands are a fun inversion to try. Handstands require advanced strength in your arms and abdominal muscles, so it’s important to work your way up to the pose over time to avoid injury. You’ll need to focus on other poses designed to build arm and core strength and incorporate those poses into your daily yoga routine.
Below are nine moves to practice to help you work your way up to a handstand. These poses will help you build strength and stability in your arms and core, so before you know it you’ll be doing handstands like a pro!
By Jenny Sugar
It may seem like Handstands are all about balance, but in order to be able to hold your body straight upside down, you need major upper-body strength. Push-ups are by far the best exercise since they’ll target your arms, shoulders, upper back, and core. Basic push-ups work great, but you can strengthen other areas of your body by throwing some push-up variations into your weekly routine as well.
Here’s another push-up variation that will really target your shoulders and upper back, as well as your quads and core. It’ll also get you used to being upside down. Do three sets of 10 a few times a week, and you’ll really notice a difference in your upper-body strength.
Crow pose is a great next step since it requires upper-body strength, balance, and core strength. It’s like a little mini-Handstand and a great way to get your hands and wrists used to holding up your body weight.
Since the Handstand is a pretty advanced inversion, it’s good to work on the most stable inversion first, Headstand. Try this one known as Bound Headstand to build your strength and balance.
After mastering a Headstand, a Forearm Stand is the next hardest inversion, but not as hard as the Handstand. Since you’re resting on your forearms, there’s more surface area to balance on. Do this move in front of a wall at first to prevent falling, and then move to the middle of the room.
Handstand Facing the Wall
This is another great exercise to strengthen the upper body and core. Start in an L-stand with the hips over the shoulders and the legs parallel to the floor. Walk your hands in toward the wall until you are in the handstand position with your toes pressing against the wall.
Handstand Against the Wall
Here’s the next step in being able to do Handstands freely. Place you hands six or so inches away from the edge of a wall. Kick your feet up, press the top of your head against the wall, and move your legs away. This will get your body in the correct alignment with your hips and shoulders stacked. Hold this position for as long as you can, and you’ll really feel your core and upper body working hard to keep your body up. When you’re ready, start pulling your head away from the wall, balancing in a full Handstand.
Although the goal of the Handstand in yoga is to be able to hold your body in one straight line, it’s really difficult to find that balance at first. Doing a Handstand with your legs in a split position is much easier. Do it in front of a wall with your toes leaning for support, and eventually move away when you master the balance.
After mastering Handstand against the wall, you’re ready to move to an open area to work on balancing without any help. Kick up with control into Handstand Split, and slowly scissor your legs together. Concentrate on holding your gaze at one point on the floor below you, keeping the hips stacked over the shoulders, fingers spread wide. Hold for as long as you can.
All images courtesy of POPSUGAR Photography / Louisa Larson.