Grounded Joy Artwork
Season 2 - Episode 3

Handstand Press

15 min - Tutorial


Lydia guides us step-by-step towards Handstand Press (Adho Mukha Vrksasana). With playful precision and skillfulness, we tune into the magnificent details that are required to press-up and lift-off, building our courage and confidence to shift our weight and soar.
What You'll Need: Mat, Block (2)

About This Video


Read Full Transcript

(relaxing waves) So in some of these practices I've been doing, I've showed a little bit of the press handstand. And this little snippet is for the handstand curious. Especially that particular press to handstand movement. I must say that I kind of don't like using the word press handstand, because it implies that there's a lot of force happening in the press. Where in fact, if you open up the fashion, open up the body enough, it's kind of a little bit more of like a transfer of weight to handstand, or like a float to handstand.

Of course there needs to be like, an adequate amount of strength in the belly. But it can get a lot easier. And I think part of my quest is finding out how I can do these powerful postures like a woman. So for this, you're gonna need two blocks. And if you don't have yoga blocks, get creative with this.

So you could find a stack of books, you want them to be like about this height. So the higher the blocks are, the easier the exercises are gonna feel. So as you progress, you might actually want to use one of the thinner blocks to challenge yourself more and eventually of course, no props. So, just keep these near you. And let's come to the top of the mat.

Inhale your arms up. Exhale fold forwards. Inhale come up, exhale fold forwards. Inhale come all the way up, a couple of times, exhale just to warm up the hamstrings. Inhale, lengthen.

Exhale, fold. Inhale, extend your pubic bone back, fill up your low back, exhale fold. Inhale come all the way up, exhale. Inhale, last one. Exhale, fold.

Lengthen. Fold. This time take your hands down, and what I want you to feel is actually the elbows wrapping in towards each other. So, my friend Kathy Valentine used to say look like a Pit Bull, like this, and then wrap your elbows in towards each other, so they have staightish arms. So that's the feeling.

Triceps, so this area all wrapping in, and then shift your weight towards your finger pads, and you will need quite a flection in your wrist for this action. So as you press strongly into your fingers and claw them into the floor, shift your shoulders over your finger pads and then exhale, just release. Shift over, just check out how that feels. Exhale and release. And shift right into your toe pads, and exhale and release.

So shift shoulders over towards the finger pads, come up onto your toe pads, and exhale and release. Now when you're doing that action, try not to back bend at all. So as you come up, actually kind of like almost round the spine then come down. So the front ribs are actually coming up into the body, the kidneys are puffing, kidney puff. You're a kidney puff.

(laughs) Exhale, come down. Inhale, come forwards. Exhale, come down. So, this time, find all of that and suck one leg up. And then lower it, it's kind of like you're on point.

Other one. And don't buckle. So actually squeeze in, and I didn't mention, but it's super great to use a strap around your arms or like I use a Thera-Band 'cause it has the elasticity of a real live body, so it doesn't feel like you're strapping yourself up in a straight jacket, which I feel straps do sometimes. So Thera-Band, you can get them at a physio place. So, finding that, one up, the other up, one up, both up.

Down. That's the idea to start. Okay, so let's release that, exhale. Inhale come all the way up. Exhale, release.

Inhale, come up. I want you to feel your traps moving down and away from your ears. So resist this movement. Inhale, come up. Exhale, fold forward.

Okay, so same action. Come forwards, shift into your toe pads, press into your fingertips, one, the other, just move a little bit back. Other, lift, move a little bit back. Do both at the same time now. Try to have your pubic bone moving up so your hamstrings are super lengthening here as you make that shift.

So it's almost like in your pelvis you're doing like resisting the curl, but in your upper back, you're really curling, if that makes sense. So pelvis, pubic bone lifts up, kidneys puff. Okay. Let's go all the way to the front of the mat. Transfer of weight.

Shift, transfer of weight. Shift, transfer of weight. Use a strap in this if you feel your elbows are buckling out to the sides. Pit bull, wrap, shift, transfer. One more.

I'm sweating. (laughs) Exhale, fold, inhale, come all the way up. Exhale. Step out to the side. Okay, so this is where you're gonna need your blocks. And let's just keep them in the center for now.

Walk your legs wide, hands on the hips, spread your sit bones as you fold forward, but resist like, arching your back. So sit bones spread, pubic bone moves back, but then your upper back is nice and full. Come all the way down, this is a nice hamstring opener. And the other ones I would recommend, really, like any supta padangusthasana. You know when you're laying on your back with one leg up.

Hanumanasana, the splits pose. Hanumanasana up against a wall. So, doing the splits pose up against a wall like this. Of course, standing split, eka pada koundinyasana. All of those before you try this stuff, really helpful.

And then also thinking about loosening. So, let's just move side to side. Like often we're just trying to stretch a muscle, or a group of muscles, and just pulling one joint fulcrum away from the other. Whereas you breath, your breathe will encourage loosening. And just being a little less rigid and thinking that you need to like, really pull yourself apart.

So, the goal is there. And then pour some softness into it. Okay, so let's get ready. We're gonna take these blocks wide as our feet, and step on them. And you're gonna forward fold from here.

Spread sit bones, soften your knees, come forwards. So the float to handstand is a lot easier from pressed to padahastasana. And, if your wrists are tender, a really nice way to get out of that is to place the wrist on the edge of your mat, especially if you have a thick mat like this, and your fingers off. So it gives you a little less compression in your wrist. And if you really feel that, you could even find a bend in your mat, so you're really giving it more bouyancy there in the wrist.

So I'm gonna go there, and then we're gonna Pit bull, or like black bear, kind of, you know they walk like that, and wrap in, strong in the outer arms, strong in the serratus area. Use a strap if you need to. Come up onto your toe pads and pubic bone goes up but then kidneys puff. And all of this, try to keep the base of your neck soft, and the shoulders moving a little away from the ears, which is hard. So you wanna get that, come up onto your toe pads, and then see if you can open your legs out to the side.

Open them. You're doing great! Open them. And then lift your pubic bone up and your front ribs up. And then try to reverse it. Kidney puff.

And release. It's nice if you feel that you've got some of that neck tension going on, to actually hold onto your jawline with your forearms and just traction your neck. So the next step would be to make your blocks a little bit smaller, and do no blocks. The feet together handstand, press float, whatever you wanna call it, is a lot harder because the wider your legs are, you can use the trajectory out of your legs, that strength outwards to come up and it's a lot easier. When your legs are together, it's a lot more weight to pull up.

You'll feel it when you start working on it. But a block, can help the process. You actually just come up a little bit. Some things to play with. One leg up, like a standing split, come high up and pubic bone up, kidney puff, shoulders away from the ears a little bit, the higher up, so this is where you can see that hamstring flexibility is helpful.

So that's something to play with on both sides. And then feet together. So shift, and just breath it, breath with it this time. So I've given you a ton of little nuggets. Inhale, exhale.

Wiggle that neck. It's really easy to get a little bit of trap tension in this one. So, make friends with this posture. I'm gonna throw in Anne Lamott quote that I think about a lot when I'm working with this kind of stuff. She says, "make friends with fear, and it doesn't rule you anymore." And how do we make friends?

We like, you can make superficial friends by just hanging out with somebody a little bit, but deeper friendships, it's time. It's just relaxed effort and time. It's not too much intensity, 'cause you'll scare it away. (laughs) It's time. So, get to know it a little bit. Thank you.


Kelly Sunrose
Lydia, I have learned SO much from you in this video. Thank you! Magical details with softness poured on top.
Lydia Zamorano
Kelly, this makes me so happy to hear. I'm loving that the feminine softness comes through. These movements have brought me a lot of joy and I love sharing them. Big squeeze your way gorgeous being! xo
Katarina V
1 person likes this.
i found the tips i was looking for. love
Lydia Zamorano
Hi Katarina. Just got this. Let me know how it goes!
Haley M
1 person likes this.
No, YOU'RE a kidney puff!!! ;)
So nice to have you in my home whenever I feel like I need some extra tips! One day handstand will be in my practice... one day! Thank you Lydia, love, love LOVE! xoxo
Lydia Zamorano
You little kidney puff you. Haley LOVE YOU.
Keri S
Amazing! Thank you!
Lydia Zamorano
Keri Happy! Love!
Emily Perry
Love this so much!
Lydia Zamorano
Emily Perry Thank you!! 

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