Grounded Joy Artwork
Season 2 - Episode 5

Headstand to Hand Balances

40 min - Practice


Lydia guides us in a challenging practice that involves transitioning from tripod Sirsasana (Headstand) to complete hand and arm balances. You will want a steady tripod Headstand as you play towards approaching Eka Pada Bakasana (One-Legged Crow), Dwi Pada Koundinyasana (Pose Dedicated to the Sage Koundinya), Eka Pada Galavasana (Flying Pigeon), Kukkutasana (Rooster Pose), and more.
What You'll Need: Mat


Read Full Transcript

(waves crashing) Hi. Super nice to see you today. This practice is almost completely hand balancing. So for this practice it is going to be useful that you are able to do a tripod headstand. And also that you've maybe played around with arm balances at least a little bit.

But even if you haven't, you might learn a lot by watching. So you could even just watch this video, learn a bit and then slowly add on a few things, bite size pieces. So let's come to the top of the mat. Spread your toes, root your heels. Hands together at the heart.

With your thumbs on your sternum, you could feel the bone maybe. Drag the bone down. And feel the back of the chest opening up and breathe into the back of your chest. At the same time move your skull up. See if you can feel a hollow in between your collar bones and some space in your throat.

And start to feel slightly deeper, more conscious breath. The one that kind of pumps you up a little bit but at the same time is super relaxing. Inspiring and relaxing. Exhale your hands down by your sides. Stay grounded, inhale slide your hands up.

Maybe look up. Exhale take your hands down by your sides again. Without backbending your spine, inhale slide your shoulder blades down and wide. And look up. Exhale, hands together at the heart.

Surya Namaskar A. Inhale the arms up. Exhale fold forwards over your legs. Inhale, lengthen your spine, press down into your feet. Exhale, downward dog.

Really land in your legs. Adjust your stance, inhale, roll into the plank pose. Exhale chaturanga. You might even want to come down onto the belly here. Cobra or take your knees down, tops of the feet down, even weight in your feet, knee upward dog.

Stretch the belly, tailbone drops toward the heels. Exhale, do a spinal roll. Low back, mid back, upper back roll. Downward dog. I like to take my hands in a little bit, tuck the toes, and find a nice shape that you can elongate in.

And that you can relax in. Move into a place of power in these postures from relaxation. Bend your knees, step, hop or float your feet forwards. Inhale, exhale. Come all the way up, ground your feet.

Exhale, hands to the heart. Inhale the arms up. There's a feeling of sliding through your tissues. Exhale, so it feels like you're hydrated on the inside. Place your hands down.

Maybe press into your fingertips so much, shift your shoulders over your fingers. Come high up onto your tippy toes. Lift one leg up into the core. Lift the other leg up into the core. Pause there, maybe lift both.

Downward dog. Plank pose. Chaturanga. Maybe push over the toes, sacrum in and up. Upward dog.

Frontal hip bone squeeze together, downward dog. Breathe. Knit, a feeling of the front of the body knitting towards each other, widening your back muscles. Bend your knees, step, hop or float forwards feeling the hips over the shoulders. Exhale, fold.

Inhale, come all the way up. Exhale, hands in front of the heart. Again. Inhale the arms up. Exhale, fold.

Inhale, lengthen. If you're a handstander, up into handstand. Maybe one leg at a time makes a little bit of a softer descent. Inhale, upward dog. Exhale, downward dog.

Breathe. Take a look at your toes and see if your pinky toes can spread away from your fourth toes and root. Breathe all the way up into the space in between your shoulder blades to relax up in between your shoulder blades and the base of your neck. And if you're a handstander, move your hips over your shoulders. Then exhale, come down.

Inhale, come all the way up. Exhale. Tripod headstand. Inhale the arms up. Exhale.

Inhale, lengthen. Downward dog. You can play with having your feet together or not here. Inhale, roll towards plank pose. Sometimes feet together feels very strong in the inner line of the legs.

And sometimes feet apart, inhale upward dog, feels more spacious in the back of the pelvis. Exhale. And then hop onto your knees. Slide your hands back. And you're gonna form an equilateral triangle between your hands and your head.

So kind of map that out for yourself and let your head come down to the floor. And then roll a little bit on your skull so that you can feel your hairline if you still have one. And then you can feel your crown which will be way too far back. And then find the fontanelle which is the space just in between them. And plug it down and actually press into it.

And come into somewhat of a dog pose here. And then press your skull quite strongly so that you feel all the muscles of your neck fire up. But relax it. And squeeze your elbows so that they come over your wrists. Tip toe your feet forwards.

And either come up with one leg which actually might be a little less stressful on your neck. Or two. If you feel neck strain, go back to only one-legged lift. And maybe switch your legs. From this position, take your legs into a pike position.

See if you can be there. Maybe there's some falling over here. And you can always come back right into it. Open your legs a little bit. The wider your legs are, the easier it is to hold this position in fact.

And then take one knee on the upper armpit, as far into the armpit as you can. Maybe it only reaches the tricep muscle which is the back of the upper arm. But see if you can get as high up as you can. Bring your feet together. Keep the elbows in.

Start to roll onto your hairline as you roll your bum down towards the floor. Press into your fingertips a lot then come up into bakasana. And this bakasana is a little bit, it's very grounded. If you wanna come a little bit up, press your hands into the floor. Press your arms towards straight and bring your heels towards your bum.

And then see if you can reverse it coming back down. Press your skull down, find that fontanelle. Bring your legs in and up. Pike position, exhale. Inhale there and then shoot your legs back and press into your hands.

And come into an upward dog. That movement is quick. Exhale, lift your hips, come down into a downward dog. Bend your knees, step or hop forwards. Exhale.

Inhale, come up. Exhale. Roll your wrists a little bit. So that's the play for all of these. Let's see what happens.

Inhale the arms up. Exhale, fold forwards. Inhale, lengthen. Exhale, downward dog. Inhale, plank pose.

Exhale, chaturanga. Upward dog. Downward dog. Hop to the knees. Slide the hands back a little bit, root your fingers.

If you're feeling any compression in your wrists, root your fingers more or take a child's pose. Take your head down. Find the center point. That feels good to sort of plug down. Elbows in, shoulder blades up.

Wide upper back. Come up. And again if you're feeling neck stuff, one leg at a time to come up is a little softer. Exhale to the pike position. Widen the legs, it'll feel a little easier for a moment.

And then do this little twisting movement where the left knee comes across to the outer right elbow. And then the other knee comes on top. Roll onto your hairline, drop your bum and see if you can come up. So you can lean into this. A stronger way to do it would be to push away from the earth but sometimes it's nice to just lean.

Let the head come down. See if it's possible to press your knees into your upper arm to come into the center and up. Use your legs instead of your arms. They're a little bit stronger. Pike.

Open. Relax your hips. Swing and maybe move your elbow in to create the catch. And then move it back out in alignment to roll onto your hairline and come up. Maybe push, maybe relax.

Back into the center. Straight up. Pike. Feel your hands. Inhale, push into your hands, toes tucked.

Upward dog. Downward dog. Bend your knees. Step or hop forwards. Inhale.

And exhale. Come all the way up, inhaling. Exhale. Ekapada bakasana. Inhale your arms up.

Exhale, fold forwards. Lengthen. Downward dog. Plank pose. Full back, wide collar bones, chaturanga.

Upward dog. Downward dog. Pubic bone goes way back. Open up your lower back. Hop to the knees.

Roll your wrists a few times. Just check in with how they're feeling. Strengthen all the way into your fingertips. Hands down. It's almost like you're grabbing a ball with your hands on the mat.

Head down. Find the equilateral triangle. Find the shoulder blades as the press into the hands brings the shoulder blades up. Elbows in. One leg at a time.

Really lift your pubic bone up here to tip the legs up. Pike. Connect your lower ribs a little bit into your body to feel stronger here. Open the legs. And then take the right knee as high up as you can on the arm like you did in bakasana.

And then swing the left leg back behind you. This movement is pushing the shin down into the arm. Shift the weight onto the hairline. See what that feels like. You can actually tip your structure a little over to the right which will make it easier but not as symmetrical.

Roll on to the hairline. Extend that back leg. Elbows in as much as possible. The lat muscles pull back which is the action I was trying to show you there. Let's try the other side.

Sometimes talking and wiggling in these things (laughing) will find you on the floor where you can surrender your ego. (laughing) Exhale, come down. Wide legs. So catch. Shin down, feeling. Reach the leg out.

Roll onto your hairline and come up. The lats pull back a little bit. Breathe. Try to relax around the upper neck then come on up. Press down onto your fingers and breathe space into your wrists.

Pike position. Push. Upward dog. I love that movement. Exhale, come back into downward dog.

It's kind of like a snap. Out of it. And a snap awake. Bend your knees. Step or hop towards the top of your mat.

Inhale. Exhale. Inhale, come up. Exhale. The Koundinyasana sisters.

Before we get into this one, take your hands like this, press them together and root down your elbows. Just take a few breaths. Let your hands come down by your sides. Inhale your arms up. Exhale.

Lengthen. Dog pose. Really land in your legs. Plank pose. Sometimes you have to shift your feet back to get a nice long stance.

Chaturanga. Upward dog. Downward dog. Hop. So for some of these, it's useful to practice twists quite a bit.

Roll on your hairline, find the center. Come up. And there's a feeling of pressing your hands into the earth, lifting the center point of your palm. And elbows come together, shoulders away from the ears. Set it up nicely so that you feel soft and strong at the same time.

Come on up. Pike pose. Open up, front ribs come in. The kidneys are nice and buoyant here. Remember the twisting movement we did in parsvobakasana, this is dwipada koundinyasana, legs together.

So over to the side. Kind of like parsvobakasana, when you roll onto your hairline and come up, sweep your legs forwards. Your shoulders might wanna be asymmetrical here. Try to align them a little bit more. Bend, come into a little package.

Head down, press your knees into your arms to come back to center and come up. Exhale, pike. Open. Helicoptering twisting movement, catching. Maybe the elbow moves in a little bit to catch.

Then it realigns. Roll up, sweep the legs forwards. The arms can straighten a little bit but still lean into the earth for support. Exhale, head down. Press the knees into the arm, up.

Pike pose. Get your hands ready to feel that press. Upward dog. Exhale back. All the way up.

Inhale. Exhale. Inhale, come on up. Exhale. We're gonna do a little prep for ekapada koundinyasana.

So inhale the arms up. Exhale, fold. Lengthen. Dog pose. From dog pose, feet together.

Inhale your right leg up. First, frontal hip points equidistant from the floor. Breathe. Then open the hip. Bend the knee.

Try to maintain a feeling of evenness in your armpits. As if you're scooping out to the side and around like a big pregnant belly. Take your leg out to the side like this. Wiggle back. See if you can get your big toe to the floor which will give you a different feeling in the outer hip.

And also it's a flexibility of the bones of the foot which is nice. Walk your hands a little bit forwards. So for some people, this is a lot. For some people it might feel good to sort of wiggle down without contracting the back muscles too much. Come down onto your forearms and breathe.

See if you can feel like you're lifting your belly away from this leg. So that's asking a tremendous amount of space in your outer hip. It's okay if you're crying a little bit in this one. (laughing) It's really sensational. If it's not for you, then you could slide this arm out and let your ear come on it.

And this is actually like parvrita trikonasana, just in a different fashion. Exhale, downward dog. Feet together, inhale left leg up. First hips equidistant to the floor. And then open.

And enjoy, be permissive with that opening. But keep your shoulders a little bit steady. Scoop under a big pregnant belly. Even if you don't want to be pregnant. Lock your feet back.

And come down maybe onto your forearms. So this position, try to get your big toe to come into the floor. Drop your hip down if you can. Keep a feeling of the belly coming away from the leg. Your big toe will definitely be off the floor in this one as you come down lower.

But you can reach it towards the floor. And maybe you can see better on this side, slide this arm and take your temple onto it. My teacher Angela Farmer calls this one the dying warrior. Let's get out of there. Exhale come back.

Step or hop forwards. Inhale, exhale fold. And inhale, come up. Exhale. Inhale, ekapada koundinyasana.

Exhale, fold. Lengthen. Downward dog. Inhale, plank pose. Exhale, chaturanga.

Wide collar bones, open armpits, inhale, upward dog. Exhale, downward dog. Breathe space into your lower back. Hop. Tripod.

Come up. Pike. Open the legs so it's a little easier. Front ribs come in a little bit. And then do that helicopter movement with your hip.

So the right foot now is gonna come up. The left leg is gonna come across. And to make it easier, I bend my right leg here. 'Cause the straighter it is, the more weight it is for me to carry. So in this side, I'll bend it.

On the other side I won't. See if you can bring that outer knee to the outer elbow, right elbow. And then I start to straighten this leg. Space in between the shoulder blades fills up. Bend into a small package again.

Press your knees into your arms to help you center and come up. So other side, pike. Open the legs. Spin them. This time I'll keep this leg straight which is more of a challenge.

Roll onto the hairline and come up. Fill up the space in between your shoulder blades. When you're coming out of it, pull in. Press down on your knees and come up. Get ready for it.

Exhale then pop. Hah. Downward dog. Step or hop forwards. Exhale, fold.

Inhale, up. Exhale. Two more to go. Ekapada galavasana. Inhale.

Exhale. Inhale. Exhale. Inhale. Exhale.

Inhale. Exhale. Hop, inhale. Exhale, place. Inhale.

Exhale, come up. So for this one, stay upright actually. Take your legs a little bit apart and that helicopter movement to bring your right foot kind of into a half lotus like position but you don't have to snuggle it high up into the groin. And then bend your knee, left knee in towards your chest. And this may just be nice to stay here.

Or you can see if the shinbone of your right leg can land and hook your foot, land on your upper arms and hook your foot around the left tricep. So we found the easier way to do this one is to actually keep that leg bent as you roll onto your hairline and come up and then extend it out from the hip. Bring it in and press the shin down to help you come up. So the other side, I'll do it with a straight leg which is more challenging depending on what you're looking for. So that movement, exhale it in.

Reach. Then come up. A little bit harder that way. Sometimes we're looking for challenge and sometimes we're just looking for much more ease. Here it comes, exhale.

And pop out of it. Spinal roll back. Last one. Step or hop forwards. Exhale, fold.

Inhale, come up. Exhale. Roll around your wrists. Just check in, how are your wrists feeling? Inhale the arms up.

Exhale, fold. Lengthen. Dog pose, strong fingers. That flex in all of your fingers, inhale forwards, supporting your wrists. Exhale, it's like there's an arch in every single finger.

Inhale. Press into the fingers, spinal roll back. Exhale, hop. Tripod. Inhale, walk tippy toe way forward till your hips are over your shoulders.

Pubic bone lifts. Come up. So for this one, you have to be able to get into a lotus. But you could just try the helicopter movement. Like that.

Once you get the foot on the front of the thigh, snuggle it by bending your, have my right leg in lotus, my left leg's bent and I'm kind of wiggling them back and forth to get the foot right into the groin crease. Once I get it there, I extend out through the inner right thighs so the knee moves back behind. And I have much more space to bring the other heel forwards. And I wiggle it in. So from here, I bring my lotus, it's a little bit easier if it's a little bit of a looser lotus.

Down. Keep the shoulders away from the ears onto my arms. And the higher up I can, if I move my elbows forwards, the higher up I can get the lotus. As the bum goes down, you roll onto the hairline and come up into kukutasana. So you can just lean into the earth with bent arms.

A stronger variation is to press the arms straight and use the lat muscles back. Exhale. Unwind. Last one, enjoy it. Push.

Liquid spine. Come down into a child's pose. Turn your palms upwards and relax your hands. I learned this from my friend Sarah Jones. Sarah Manring Jones.

Let your fingers come together as you exhale. And as you inhale, just open up your hands super softly like a budding flower. Relax your hands fully. Fingers come together like a pursed bud. And open them up.

And feel like as you're doing this a few more breaths with your eyes closed, there's like a funnel in your wrist. And there's like relaxation moving from your hands into your arms. Like sand moving through a timer. Or liquid moving through a funnel. So rolling up from here.

Take your shins out to the side. Take your legs forwards. Just find your plumb line, long spine. I kind of like to roll my sit bones out to the side. And with a straighter spine, fold forwards.

When you hit the edge of your straight forward fold, straight through the spine, then take a hold of your shins or your feet. And then allow for a little curl to come through your spine. You relax all the muscles along the back. And all the connective tissue along the spine. A couple more breaths.

Then with that little curve in your spine then you have that little curl. Just roll on up. Savasana. So find yourself laying down with your comfortable position for your legs so you could plant your feet. Knees fall together.

You could put your legs up the wall. You could be in supta baddakonasana if that feels nice. I'm just gonna go into lengthening my legs. And then close your eyes. And observe what's come up.

And in this time, let go any tendrils of attachment to the physical practice. Any thoughts of right or wrong, good or bad. Observe yourself without assumption. Studies show that the position of the observer can change the quality of the phenomenon being observed just by watching. Just by assuming a position of assumption can affect the discovery and potentially limit it.

So forget about anything that you think you should be. And observe yourself with wide open awareness. You might wanna stay here for a little bit longer. But if you don't, you feel well grounded, and spacious, wiggle your fingers and your toes. And make any movements that you usually do to come out.

Thank you. You were beautiful in that one. Namaste.


Heidi H
What an incredible practice. I can do very little of it, yet, so I sat and watched the whole thing. It was so beautiful to watch, so fluid with so much energy. It gave me inspiration, as well as a better idea of how to start working on these more difficult poses.
Lydia Zamorano
Hi Heidi!
Thank you so much for your comment. I love watching and learning, it has been such a special way for me to receive the practices. Sending love! Lydia

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