I just wanted to show you a diagram I drew which shows different kinds of handstand posture.
Pay particular attention to positions 1 & 6.
Most people find themselves in position 6 instead of position 1 because limited shoulder mobility means their shoulders don’t open fully. This is why stretching the shoulders regularly can help us get to position 1.
Also notice in position 8 it’s possible to hold a tuck with the back and arms in straight alignment but it means leaning into the wrists and requires a lot of shoulder strength. Position 9 however is more easier on the wrists & shoulders but requires the bum to stick out with a slight back bend to counterbalance the tucked legs.
Anyway. Spend a bit of time thinking about each one and I can help you find your alignment when you come to class.
Consider getting some of these Resistance Bands which can be used to help progress your Strength + Flexibility
An example of position 9 where the arms are vertical but the bum sticks out with a slight back bend to counterbalance the legs.
For more coaching on correct technique consider looking at the GMB videos.
Start simple. put your hands on the floor, shoulder width apart, about 10 inches from a wall. Practise a small hop so that one foot just touches the wall. Practice this 5 times on each foot. This will build your confidence so your mind learns where the wall is.
If you feel confident, put your hands in the same position and kick up into a full handstand against the wall so both feet touch the wall and your body is straight. Keep doing this repeatedly until your feet touch the wall more gently with more control.
If you feel confident to move away from the wall, practise with a leg staying straight and the other leg kicking up into a stag position so the foot touches knee of the straight leg.
2. Body tension.
Balancing a wobbly body is difficult. Keep the body tense and engaged so that the balancing is done by the fingers not the rest of the body.
Practise by laying on the floor and squeezing your bum, abs, legs, pointed toes, and hands above your head as if you’re in a handstand. Practising body tension on the floor will help you engage it when in a handstands.
Alignment makes the handstand easier because the bodyweight gets supported by the skeleton rather than muscle effort. We would like the body (arms, spine and legs) to be in a straight line. If the shoulders don’t go straight then the back will bend to compensate and muscle effort will therefor be needed which is tiring!
Stretch your shoulders every day to encourage a straight line between your arms and back.
Squeezing your tail bone under will also encourage the back to go straight.
If you’re unsure, ask a friend to spot you, or film yourself doing a handstand to see if you’re straight.
Check out these Resistance Bands which can be used to progress your Strength + Flexibility.
4. Shoulder Strength & Stability.
Even if you have control, alignment, and bodytension, your shoulders need to be strong enough to maintain your body weight whilst in a handstand.
Kick up against the wall (hands about 10 inches from wall) and hold a straight handstand for 10 seconds. Build this up to 30 seconds and 60 seconds over a period of weeks.
Do press ups and downward dog shoulder presses to increase the shoulder and tricep strength.
With everything else in place, the final component is to practise balancing.
Kick up against a wall and press in your fingers so your feet are pulled away from the wall. Do this repeatedly to build the strength in your forearms.
If you do this repeatedly you will find balance & control begin to improve and you will start to hold a handstand for several seconds at a time without your feet touching the wall.
Everybody has different limiting factors. Some people have great flexibility but not enough strength. Those people will benefit from strengthening their shoulders. Some people have plenty of strength but not enough flexibility. Those people will benefit from more stretching.
This is why Crossfit people and Yoga people would require different coaching when learning handstands.
Enjoy your practise and be playful. The most important thing is that you find enjoyment.
Be patient. Handstand are difficult.
Everybody starts somewhere. Don’t compare yourself to what others can do. Some people may learn more quickly, but they may have been doing gymnastics or yoga or strength training for years.
Be sure to watch the free 20 minute handstand tutorial on AcroLibrary.com If you live in Bristol United Kingdom you can attend Ben Lowrey’s handstand classes here.
Be sure to also check out the Podcast
I am a self-taught acrobat. This does not mean I did not learn from other people, it simply means that for the large majority of my training I never had anyone pushing me harder or telling me what I am doing wrong. Likewise, there were not a whole lot of resources when I needed them that would have been crucial to my learning at the time. Because of this, the process I used to achieve my skills has been my own.
I was not especially active as a child, and I really did not start getting into all this until towards the end of high school. I literally got my start from watching too many martial arts movies and trying to imitate them.
In college I had exposure to several new movement styles including capoeira, MMA,. martial arts tricking, cheerleading(stunting and tumbling), weightlifting, and parkour. I got very involved in movement at the time, but I still had very little resource or instruction. Most of the progress I made came from me being stubborn and experimenting.
Out of college, I started to get more into gymnastics training. I was very lucky to get a chance to work with Valentin Kirichenko, a former member of the Soviet Olympic gymnastics team from 1976. This was a huge inspiration to me because not only could Valentin still perform beautifully at nearly 60 years old, he also had a very deep technical understanding of gymnastics and movement. It was invaluable to get advice from him on occasion and be able to pick his brain on certain subjects.
On top of that, this was the first time I had any honest critique of my skills, and it took some good shots to the ego to learn how to accept and embrace it.
It was this exposure that started to give me a clear image of what a real teacher should be. A good teacher should completely embody his art; live it and breath it. A good teacher can break down a technique to anyone, where the necessity is to be completely technical or simple enough to show a child. Moreover, a good teacher should continually be a student and inspire his students to never stop learning. Lastly, a distinction has to be made between learning and following orders, which makes the difference between a student and a soldier/minion. A teacher should be showing their students how to think and learn for themselves, so that the lessons can extend well beyond the scope of the class.
In 2011 I moved to Las Vegas in the hopes of being around people who were better than me that I could learn from. I got the opportunity to learn from many amazing acrobats and hand balancers. Over this time I learned many new skills in the realm of circus arts. In addition, I was able to perform in some large scale events such as the Winter Cup, the Target Expo, Fetish and Fantasy Ball, Broadway Bares, and the Redken Symposium among others. I also attended(and taught at) some Gymnastics Bodies seminars with Coach Sommer, where I learned some new perspectives on developing gymnastics strength.
I was also incredibly fortunate on my way to meet and learn from Kit Laughlin, who is another major influence on my work. I also drew inspiration from Kit’s open sharing of information as well his ethics of how to run a business.
What does all this have to do with my work? Well the point I am trying to make is that I am not by any means a finished product as an athlete, artist, or teacher. I do not believe in finished product, just constant works in progress. I believe that as a human you can either learn and grow, or devolve and deteriorate in your experiences. Stagnation leads to deprecation if you do not learn anything new as time goes forward.
This brings me to the subject of “fitness”. What I do is not fitness. Even when I was young and terribly misinformed I still did not get the concept of “fitness” where people just went through the same motions for years without ever seeing results.
Why not use that time and energy to mindfully learn something? The human body is so incredibly complex, and so few people actually get to realize their own potential. The things I teach develop your connection with your own mind and body in a unique way.
What I am offering is a unique perspective on learning acrobatic feats from someone who was not born to the life. I had to struggle to get to where I am, and you can have the benefit of learning from the many mistakes I made.
However, there is a cost to all this. It takes hard work, patience, perseverance and dedication. Learning something new requires you to be uncomfortable.
With that said, I recommend my seminars to anyone looking to learn new skills with their own bodies. In addition the information is useful for people who want a new perspective or reinforcement on the concepts they already know. Athletes, yogis, gymnasts, dancers, weightlifters can all benefit greatly as well as those who come from no athletic background.
It’s your body, don’t you want to be able to do something with it?
Many people believe they need more upper body strength to hold a handstand, but in many cases what they need is more shoulder flexibility.
When you’re in a handstand, if your arms and spine form a straight line then you need very little strength to hold a handstand, just like how standing upright on your feet is effortless.
The less flexibility you have in the shoulders, the more angles there will be (closed shoulders, back bend), and the more muscle strength will be required to support those angles. If you don’t know what I mean then try holding a squat for 60 seconds and notice how difficult it is.
The answer is to push and stretch.
When you push upwards so that your hands go away from your body, and your shoulders come right to your ears, this has the effect of opening the shoulders into a straight(er) line with the spine.
Stretching the shoulders open will also improve the range of motion and make your handstand easier. This can be done with a few basic stretches but will also be improved by yoga and regular full body stretching routines.
Come to class and we’ll work on it. 🙂
If you have any questions email me.
CONTORTURE™ is a new method of conscious mobility helping industry professionals and fitness enthusiasts gain extreme flexibility. The contortion based workout – which has attracted a following of athletes, dancers, yogis and models – encourages a total body connection through stretching, strength training and inversions. CONTORTURE™ offers gym devotees a fun and challenging alternative to traditional workouts and an opportunity to master awe-inspiring acrobatics, strengthen their core and improve postural alignment. The low-impact routine incorporates handstands, back bends and deep stretching, a perfect progression for those who are yawning in yoga and bored with Bikram .
Check out the trailer below and the full site at CONTORTURE
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“We don’t stop playing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing”
– George Bernard Shaw
Being old is simply a state of mind. Age? Just a number. “You’re as young as you feel,” we hear time and time again, but it’s one thing hearing it and another actually believing it.
So when does it all change? When do we go from being young, carefree children filled with wonder and fascination with the world, to being boxed-in by what others think and tell us? When I was little my biggest concern was whether or not I’d get to buy the newest limited edition Pokemon cards!
But it does change. We begin to let our circumstances define our identity. We experience loved ones passing away; we get bullied at school; we get told, “You’re too fat to do this,” or, “You’re too skinny to do that.” We allow the labels put on us to actually become who we are.
What if I told you that that’s not who you are?
At fifteen, I was told by a loved one that I was too old to start acrobatics; that essentially I shouldn’t attempt one of my childhood dreams. The last thirteen years of free running, dance and movement have left me with some of the most beautiful God-given moments of my life: climbing to the top of many buildings with friends to watch the sun set over Oxford; dancing in a church with a group of my friends till the early hours of the morning; filming in Rotterdam with roads closed-off JUST so that I could run down them; attending movement workshops in Amsterdam with some of my best friends (being so tired that we fell asleep at the airport and missed our flight… it’s funny now). These are just a few of countless beautiful memories I’ve had, none of which would have happened if I’d believed the words that were spoken over me when I was just starting out.
Which words have you allowed to define you or knock you off a childhood dream? And what have you locked away because it now seems too frivolous next to the demands of daily life? I can’t say I’ve kicked against everything that’s been spoken over me (yet) but one thing I have definitely held onto this whole time is my childlikeness; the permission to play. And that is part of what I want to encourage in others through these classes. It is possible to reach a high standard in something without losing the fun and playfulness you have when you start out. So whether you’ve always wanted to try new kinds of movement, or you’ve been doing it for years and it’s got stale (or anything in between), come along and see what we’re about.
And, classes aside, why not choose today which negative label you want to get rid of in your life? Think where you could be in a year’s time if you started now!
Have a beautiful day and know how loved you are!
Here at Bristol Movement Collection we’re passionate about using these incredible bodies we’ve been given to the fullest, so we offer a place where you can mix and match different disciplines of movement. We massively love seeing students obtain new abilities, grow in confidence and achieve things they didn’t think possible, and we encourage a healthy dose of childlike play and wonder throughout. It’s about exploration.
Who are we?
We’ve been teaching different forms of movement for over nine years – things like hand balancing, gymnastics, free running, circus and contemporary movement. We love teaching very much. We love seeing people adding new vocabularies of movement to their ever-growing repertoire of locomotion (thesaurus win).
We love finding the synergy when two or more disciplines meet and create something beautiful. What happens when you put together floor work from contemporary dance and hand balancing? Or combine free running with ballet? We see this kind of contrasting partnership in so many aspects of life – in nature, in urban environments, cultural crossover, language, street art… anything from a thorny rose or thunder & lightning, to different nationalities, classes or faiths doing life together. Why shouldn’t we mix it up a bit in how we explore movement?
This is simply why we’ve set up these classes. We have some incredibly talented teachers and we can’t wait to see what develops as we combine our collections of disciplines to create something beautiful… and fun!