The 7-Day Handstand Challenge Artwork
Season 1 - Episode 7

Day 6: Orienting in Space

25 min - Practice


In our Handstand practice, we are continually checking in with ourselves to see where we are in space. This sense of proprioception helps us feel safe in our bodies and in our pose. In Day 6 we explore exercises that will help us tune in to that internal sense, and move towards a whole-body integrated approach to our inversion. You will feel focused and confident.
What You'll Need: Mat, Strap, Block (2)


Read Full Transcript

Hi, welcome back to day six of our challenge. So this is the integrated inversion and it's really important when we're thinking about hand standing is how do we understand our body in space? And so the integrated inversion, the purpose of this practice is to be able to understand where we are at all times. That way we feel safer in our body and safer in our inversion. We'll get started with the strap and come on down onto your back.

Stretch your left leg forward, bend your right knee into your chest and you're welcome to loop the strap around your foot as I'm doing or to hold your big toe. And from here, hold on to the strap with both hands if you're using it, press forward through the left heel. You can even press the ball of the foot forward so it's a little more handstand like. Then from here, walk your right hand up the strap and then take the leg out to the right. Reach your left arm overhead, turn the back of the hand to face the mat.

And then from here, see if you can pull your fingertips back. It's okay that the upper arm is coming in front of you for right now because the floor is preventing you from coming into that full handstand position with the arms overhead. Now can you press the left ball of the foot away from you as you push through the left palm? Then in inhalation, keep the hand where it is, bring the right leg up slowly as you continue to maintain your awareness along the left side of the body. And so this looks pretty familiar from some of the shapes that we've already been practicing.

Okay, and then lower the left hand, bend your right knee and place the right foot onto the floor before sliding it forward. Come over to the second side, bend the left knee, loop the strap around the arch of your foot and press your left heel up towards the ceiling. From there, your right leg, heel can press forward or press forward through the ball of the foot. So remember that your toes or the ball of the foot is going to be your indicator when you're kicking up. So you're going to press straight up to the ceiling when you're coming into an inverted handstand or you're going to press forward towards the wall in this case.

Now hold on to the strap with your left hand, take your left leg out to the side, right arm to the right. Then sweep the right arm overhead, back of the hand faces the ground, pull the fingertips back and press through the heel of your hand. Then can you make the right side of your body any longer reaching forward through the ball of the right foot and pressing through the palm of the right hand. Very slowly bring the left leg back through center, keeping your awareness along the right side of the body as the left leg moves. So we're integrating all of these pieces.

Pause here, press through the right side of the body in both directions and release your right hand, bend your left knee and place the left foot onto the floor before sliding it forward. Place your strap aside for the moment and take your right leg up into the air. Take your arms overhead just like you did before, pull the fingertips back, press through the heels of your hands. Press up through the right ball of the foot and it's okay if the foot isn't over the hip, the feet can be a little bit further out in front of you. Then from here, going to lift your left leg up and switch legs, press through the left ball of the foot, reach the right leg forward, tap the ground with your heel and then again lift up and switch the legs.

So you can do this fast and you can do this slow, but as you're doing it, continue to push through the hands, get long in the body as you reach through the legs. So there's a lot of different things that are happening in your handstand, right? You're moving through this trajectory of how to get from your feet to your hands and we are constantly checking back in with ourselves to see where we are in space. Now, if you close your eyes, can you continue to feel where your left leg is, where your right leg is, where your hands are, and what you're doing. Good, and then rest there, bring the top leg down, lower the arms for a moment.

Then from here, bend both of your knees for a moment, readjust. So let's take the front ribs, pull them down towards the front of your hips and elongate the neck. Reach your arms overhead again, actively extend the wrists and then lift your head up. Take your right leg forward, left leg forward, so you're in this Arda Navasana position. Take your right leg down and drive the right heel down into the mat as you keep reaching forward through the left toes and then you're going to switch, drive the left heel down as you reach the right toes forward at whatever angle they're at, press through the heels of the hands, switch legs, drive the heel down, reach through the toes, switch, drive down, reach through the toes, drive down, reach through the toes.

Good, notice what's happening in your arms. As you look at your toes, have the arms sort of bend, fall into the sides, are they still active? Take one more switch here and then lower all the way down, release the arms. Bend your knees, roll to one side and then if you have your strap, you can neatly bring it over to the side and then make your way onto all fours for tabletop. Bring the right ball of the foot back, so very similar to what you were doing before.

Take the left fingertips forward and we've come into a similar position before, right? Lifting the hand, lifting the foot, if you prefer, press through the ball of the foot. Take a breath here and as you exhale, hand comes down, knee comes down, reach the left ball of the foot back, bring the right arm forward, the feeling the right shoulder blade come onto the back without the ribs dipping down, lift the ribs up and then move from your shoulder, lift the left leg up, maybe press through the ball of the foot, then lower the hand, lower the knee. I'm going to do that one more time, reach through the foot, through the hand, draw the ribs in as you lift from your shoulder, lift from the leg, the hip extension that we worked on yesterday. Take another breath here as you pull the left arm and the right leg away from each other, maybe come into handstand position, press forward through the heel of the hand, then lower the hand, lower the knee, other side, okay, reach up, press forward through the heel of the hand, reach back through the toes.

Now if you want to give this a little different flavor, now bring your hands down, come into plank, okay, so feet a little bit wider, reach the left arm forward, handstand, then push down through your right hand, push down through the ball of your left foot, reach the right leg back, okay, push through, so can you feel how you need to be aware of what's happening in your right hand, what's happening in your left foot, and then what's happening with your aerial limbs. There's a lot going on, okay, and then lower down, other side, so settle, switch, shift, feel the weight in the right ball of the foot, the left hand, walk the fingertips forward, lift, handstand hand, and integrate, feel what's going on in your body. You can see what's happening in the ball of the foot behind you, okay, and then lower down, and come into downward facing dog. On an inhalation, shift forward back into your plank, from here, lower down to the ground, wherever you choose, take your arms out in front of you, reach strongly back through your toes, and then pull the fingertips back into active wrist extension, so you can hover the hands here, press the shoulder blades against the back, reach your toes back for length, and then as you exhale, bring the arms down along the sides of your body, inhale, lift up into shalabhasana, take a few breaths here, and then as you exhale, lower back down, take the hands alongside the ribs and underneath the shoulders, press back into downward facing dog. From down dog, walk your feet up to your hands, you can walk hands back to your feet, take your hands to your hips, and inhale all the way up to stand.

So from here, grab your blocks and place your blocks at the top of the mat, and you can lift the blocks to whatever height works well for your hands. From here, you're going to come up into that upright handstand, pull the fingertips back, push down through the balls of the feet as you lift the heels up, and then as you exhale, hold forward dropping the heels down, inhale, elongate the spine, exhale, step your right foot back, turn the right heel down, and now you'll take those blocks and bring them to the inside of your left foot, and you could pull them back a little bit more. As you inhale, come up into a warrior two position, make any adjustments that you need in your feet, and so when we come into side angle, usually we have the fingertips facing the same direction as the toes. This is going to be a little bit different. You're going to take the hand and turn the hand maybe a quarter of the way, maybe 180, and bring the fingertips to face your back foot.

So either facing towards the long edge of the mat behind you, or bringing the hand all the way around. Bend the left knee, take your right arm overhead to extended side angle, turn your thumb so it faces down towards the ground, and then find the handstand arm, pull the fingertips back. And notice if you're pressing the hips forward and the ribs forward, draw the ribs back, it's okay that that arm comes forward, because now you're going to press the shoulder blade against the upper back as you take the upper arm back. Bend into the left knee, take another breath here, and then inhale, you'll come back into warrior two. On your exhalation, circle your hands down, you can move your blocks back out in front of you as you come onto the ball of the right foot, and step your right foot forward.

Do the other side, inhale, get long in the spine, exhale, step your left foot back, spin the heel down, readjust your blocks, I like stacking one on top of the other on this height, just because it's more steady for me. So bend the right knee, and then from there, circle the arms up, lunge into your front leg, then you're going to start to revolve the right arm, so it's coming into external rotation, spin the fingertips out towards the long edge of the mat, maybe all the way, so your fingertips point towards your back leg, inhale, bring the left arm overhead, then thumb points down towards the ground, pull the fingertips behind you, take a mental note of where you are in space, if this were handstand, how would your handstand be oriented? Can you feel the connection still between the left foot and left hand? And inhale, come back up into your warrior two, so you exhale, circle the hands back down to your blocks, come onto the ball of your left foot, and step the left foot forward, fold into uttanasana, bring your hands to your hips, inhale all the way up to stand. So from here, we're going to come into artichandrasana, and then we're going to do a little bit of a play sequence, okay, so you're more than welcome to play, if you want to try a little bit of hopping, and if you don't feel comfortable with that, then you don't have to come into that, so be sure that you make your empowered choice.

So I'm going to take both of my blocks, stack one on top of the other, take my right foot back, and my left pinky toe more or less is pointing towards the edge of the blocks, okay, stand the left knee, place your left palm onto the blocks, lift your right leg up, artichandrasana. Those right arm will come up, take the right arm overhead, turn the thumb to face down, pull the fingertips back. Can you find your handstand in artichandrasana? It's there, okay, then from here, this first go around, we're just going to get a taste or a feel for what this play is like. So you're going to take your right hand down to the ground, as you turn your ribs down, turn the hip down, turn the leg down, and then push the blocks aside, so they're no longer part of this equation, and the hands come down to the mat, reach through the toes as we've been practicing, bend the left knee, without kicking up, what is that like to bend and straighten the leg that's on the ground, and lift the aerial leg as you press into the mat.

So this is an option, if the hands aren't reaching the floor all the way, and you're not kicking up, this might be an alternative, okay, okay, right leg comes down. Shift back into your heels, you can stack the blocks over now onto the right side, hands to hips, come on up to stand, okay, take the right leg now in front, so the right pinky toe is facing the corner, the bottom left corner of the block, bend the right knee, take your right palm to the blocks, float the left leg up for artichandrasana, reach back through the left heel, turn the chest, bring the left arm overhead, turn the thumb to face down, pull the fingertips back, then reach through the hand and the foot, notice if you're collapsing into the right, push away, okay, now we're going to get a feel for that handstand play, bring the left arm down to the ground, let the rest of the body follow suit, move the blocks aside, then get a feel, bending the right knee, reaching through the left leg, bend, reach and press through the hands, bend, reach and press, and then from there lower your left leg down, hands to hips, come on up to stand, okay, so we're going to do that again, and this time if you want to add a little hop, we can add a little hop, if there's not a lot of space with your hands already down, you're welcome to lift the chest up and practice placing the hands down, okay, so blocks come back over to the left side, step the right leg back, come into artichandrasana, take the arm overhead, find your handstand, reach through the right side of your body, from there circle the hand down, slide the blocks aside, then a little hop, and back down, hop, back down, hop, and back down, okay, bring that right leg down, shift your hands back, hands to hips, come up to stand, so now we'll come over to the other side, grab your blocks, bring them over to the right side, align your foot, take your right hand to the blocks, come into artichandrasana, half moon pose, take the left arm overhead, thumb points down, pull the hand back, reach through the arm and the leg, and then you can come back into those preps for kicking up, or maybe a little bit of hopping play, take the left hand down, slide the blocks aside, place your palms on the ground, where you feel secure and ready to weight bear, bend the right knee, and left leg up, and again, and maybe again, and back down, good, bring your left foot back down to the ground, take your hands to your hips, and come all the way up to stand, so from here, we're going to make our way over to the wall, so we've practiced our L handstand, wedging ourselves between the wall and the floor, so this can be an opportunity to try something a little bit different, what would it be like to hand stand in the middle of the mat? So you can drop off at the L handstand, or take this progressive step, so we'll start again coming down into a tabletop position, so my toes are tucked under, my heels are near the wall, and it might feel very close, and that's okay, usually the closer feeling is when your hips are right on top of your shoulders, which is a very different feeling than when we're normally standing or whatever we're doing, we don't really feel this way, so it's perfectly fine to pause there, to feel the movement of the hands, all of the elements that we've been working on, okay? Bring your hands down into your tabletop position, lift the hips, it's okay if the knees remain bent, you're going to step your right foot onto the wall, push into that right ball of the foot, like we've been doing this whole time, and then bring the left foot onto the wall, okay, and I push down through my hands, push into my feet, now that left foot is going to stay secure on the wall as you lift your right leg up, as a counterbalance you can look towards your thumbs, okay, it might feel really scary looking at the foot that's on the wall, so look forward, and maybe there's a little backbend there and that's okay, okay, now you're going to drive this right ball of the foot up towards the ceiling as you push through the hands, and then step your right foot all the way back down to the ground and lower down, take a breath there, and then we'll do the other side. When you're ready, okay, again, tuck your toes, lift on up, okay, step the left foot onto the wall, make sure that the foot is firmly pushing into the wall as you then step the right foot onto the wall, reach through the arms, look at the thumbs, maybe lift the left leg away from the wall, so you're freestanding in this handstand with a little support from the wall and support of course from the floor, reach up through the ball of the left foot, and then when you're ready, step that left foot all the way back down to the floor, followed by the right, and sit back for a moment, take a moment here, process, feel what it's like to come down after holding the L handstand.

Now we're going to turn towards the wall and come up into legs up the wall, so it's a sweet treat after the handstand inversions to come into this more grounded inversion, so you're going to cuddle up next to the wall, bring your back and shoulders down, and bring the legs up, and now if you need to scooch closer, go ahead and do that, and then bring your arms into any position that feels restful for you, and then we've been doing a lot of work with the feet and the ankles and pointing them like arrows, so can you let the ankles relax, maybe do a few circles with the ankles in one direction, circle in the opposite direction, maybe a little wiggle of the legs, side to side, and let them rest. And you can keep the legs in this position if you're sort of digging this inversion, otherwise a little variation, you're going to bend the knees and bring the soles of the feet together, and it's okay to move the big toe sides of the feet away from each other, it's almost like you're opening a book with the feet. And then come back into your breath, feeling the sensation of your breath as it moves in and out of your body, and starting to neutralize those energetic and effortful movements that are required for learning handstand and coming into handstand, and staying in handstand. We also need to counter all of that with rest and reflection, and that's how we improve each day, little by little, we do a little more, and then we reflect on that journey. It's not a positive or a negative, just simply is what it is, and we do the best we can to reflect and learn from those reflections.

Thank you. Now, using your hands, begin to draw the legs in towards each other, roll to one side. Use your hand as a pillow. And using your hands, gently press yourself up to a seated position. Now, place one hand over your heart, the other hand on top.

Thank you so much for joining me for Day 6, and I will see you for Day 7.


M Angela C
2 people like this.
Another transformative practice for me!  The transition from half moon into ‘handstand hops’ revealed a lot and helped me gain better awareness of my body orientation - I stayed in this to allow it to soak in! I know I will return to and playi with all of the practices way beyond the 7 day challenge. Thanks for making the practice so accessible. 🙏 
Kate M
1 person likes this.
This handstand work recruits... EVERYTHING!   : )
Catherine A
1 person likes this.
Hi Allison, I feel all the work of the challenge is paying off for me I have found my heels generally bouncing off the wall on kick-ups (I still most definitely need a wall for the full inversion) and I will need to paint over (and possibly even fill in ) the indentations which have appeared on my wall . But I have gained a lot of control over my body when upside down and also confidence after all these classes and I find really exciting moments of perfect balance......! Many thanks 🙏 
Jenny S
Another informative and fun practice! And OMG legs up the wall felt so nice after all that upper body inversion work. Like, I could have literally had my legs up the wall for the rest of the morning lol 😌

You need to be a subscriber to post a comment.

Please Log In or Create an Account to start your free trial.

Footer Yoga Anytime Logo

Just Show Up

Over 2,900 yoga and meditation practices to bring you Home.

15-Day Free Trial