Learn to do a Handstand- 3 mods to build up strength

I’ve been practicing headstands for a while now but have yet to master a handstand. Handstands are amazing at building strength throughout the entire body but more specifically they really work the core, shoulders, arms and chest. The good news is you don’t need to be able to actually do a handstand before you start seeing some increases in your strength simply by training for them. Here’s a link to the best video I’ve seen on how to do an actual handstand, it’s by Eionn Finn who is a world renowned yoga teacher, he really gets into the alignment which will make this pose very safe to practice, here are a couple good exercises topractice in the meantime to help get you there.

WATCH TUTORIAL HERE Eionn Finn How to Do a Handstand

1. Hand Stand Against the Wall

Start with your palms shoulder width apart and climb your feet up the wall, stop once your body makes a 90 degree angle from there practice lifting one leg off the wall at a time  hold for 30-60 seconds per side. handstand against a wall

2. Against the wall shoulder taps.

So in this exercise your going to want to come into a handstand but use the wall for support. Then alternate each hand taping the opposite shoulder, when you place the hand back down try to do it as quietly as possible (you’ll see in this video I’m not very good at that!)  Click here to open video

3. Pikes

You can do a pike with either a TRX or using a swiss ball like in the video below. This exercise is  an advancement from a regular plank so before you try make sure you can already hold a regular plank for at least a minute.

How to do a headstand.

how to do a headstand, yoga, headstand, yoga headstandTodays post is about how you can incorporate some more advanced inversions into your yoga practice.

I guess the simplest way to describe an inversion would be when your heart is below your head. If you’ve been to a yoga class then  most likely you’ve practiced the basic inversions like down dog or a forward fold. But what about some of the more advanced ones? Like head-stands, hand-stands or Scorpio pose?

The reason I thought it was important to talk about is because they are insanely good for you! Some of the most hard core traditional yogis do a practice that consists of just meditation and an inversion. But often times you won’t see these poses in regular classes because there are risks of injury if they aren’t practiced safely, but the average person without any existing conditions and a normal body mass index shouldn’t have any problems.

To be honest I have been practicing yoga regularly for almost 10 years and I just started doing headstands about a year ago,  the thing is I’ve probably had the functional core strength for most of that time, but because I let my ego get in the way and didn’t want to be embarrassed so I wouldn’t even try them, and I see a lot of that in yoga classes.

The good news is that once you start to practice a hard pose regularly you will see results! Even if it ‘s just for 5 minutes every evening your body does eventually follow suit.

How to Do a Head Stand Below

I have broken down headstand (the way that I have learned it, I’m sure other teachers have different just as effective methods!)

1. Begin in a traditional downward dog, and then come down onto your elbows so your hips are still high in the air.

2. Bring the top of your head down onto the floor and interlace your fingers together, palms are toward your head.

3. Now move your head towards your hands, the back of your head is basically pushed into your hands almost like a little net.

4. Bring your elbows in, they should be in your peripheral view.

5. Keep you hips lifted and come up onto your tippy toes, walk your feet as close to your body as you can.

6. Now lift one foot into the air, and keep that foot flexed.

7. Keeping your core engaged slowly lift up your other foot from the ground, try to keep both feet together and flexed.

8. You’ve done it! Or maybe not, even getting one foot off the ground is great, you can always progress.

Don’t be afraid of falling!! That was the hardest part for me, but after I fell a few (dozen) times you realize that it doesn’t hurt, and it’s actually kind of fun. Plus if you have kids they’ll love to practice with you. I would recommend not using a wall, lots of people begin this way but it actually just slows down your progress because your not engaging your core as much as you would without the wall. Don’t kick your legs up! This is just using momentum and you will more likely just roll right over, slowly lift one leg at a time. If you’re nervous get a friend to assist you, have them place their hands on the sole of your feet but just enough to steady you.

8 Reasons why you should be upside down.

 

  1. Bringing your head below your heart reverses the blood flow in the body and improves circulation. It also brings oxygen to your brain, which helps to improve mental capacity and focus.
  1. Increase your core and upper body strength, more women then men tend to practice yoga and typically our legs are more powerful, doing inversions such as head and hand-stands works deep into your core while also strengthening the shoulders and arms.
  1. Reduced Blood Pressure and Heart Rate, once your upside down the pressure in your body changes. Blood rushes to your head and the receptors in the brain signal the heart to lower its rate and pressure when pumping blood.
  1. Better Mood, studies have proved that inversions when practiced on a regular basis can improve your overall mood and lessen symptoms of depression.
  1. Improves balance, if you think it’s hard to balance on one leg well it’s a whole other ball game once you only have only your hands or shoulders to work with!
  1. Prevent Illness, the lymphatic system keeps the body healthy by eliminating toxins and bacteria through the lymph nodes. Lymphs move through muscle contractions and gravity so when you are upside down the lymphs can more easily travel through the respiratory system where the majority of toxins enter the body.
  1. Builds confidence, nothing feels better then when you can master some freaky yoga pose…also fun to break out at parties.
  1. Keeps you humble, learning a hard pose is a process and it doesn’t happen overnight, just strength alone will not get you there when it comes to a difficult inversion, it’s a combination of flexibility, power and confidence. The same way you feel empowered when you master a hard pose you feel humbled when you fall on your but a few dozen times!

 

 

 

This is why yoga is freaking awesome

benefits of yoga, yoga, health and yoga

 

Aside from the obvious benefits of practicing yoga, i.e. improving your flexibility, strength and cardiovascular health, there have also been a slew of studies that document the mental benefits that can help aid in weight loss and decrease your overall response to stress.  I have outlined a few :

7 benefits of yoga that you might not know about

  1. Studies have proven that immediately after practicing yoga participants will score higher on cognitive tests. This is likely because breathing deeply activates the prefrontal cortex in the brain.
  1. Yoga requires intense focus, often times in class your instructor will tell you to focus on a still spot in the room in order to help you maintain your balance or posture. Practicing this type of control carries over into other aspects of your life, studies have proven yoga students have more overall control of their feelings such as fear, anger or stress.
  1. Combing your breathing, focus and movement activates the parasympathetic nervous system, this is where our body decides whether or not to rest or digest. Digestion actually takes up a great deal of energy, and if this system isn’t working properly it can interfere with our bodies ability to cleanse.
  1. The vagus nerve is a neural system in the body it is partly responsible for regulating your mood, and alerting your immune system. After practicing yoga more immunity enhancing cells are released into your system making it easier to fight off infections.
  1. When we breathe from our belly we fully expand our lungs allowing for more oxygen to be received by the body.
  1. Regular yoga practice has proven to lower your resting heart rate.
  1. After yoga class cortisol levels (the stress hormone) are low, since cortisol makes many people crave fatty foods it’s often easier to avoid snacking on trigger foods right after your yoga practice.

 

 

5 Best Poses for a Great Butt

yoga poses for butt, bum exercises, butt exercises

Yoga for a Great Butt

Here’s a great sequence for anyone looking to tone and tighten their tush. Hold all of the poses for 5-10 breaths and do 2 sets. For best results try to practice most days, it shouldn’t take you longer then 20 minutes!

Single Leg Downward Dog

Begin in a regular down dog, hands shoulder width apart, fingers spread, press through the palms and lift the hips forming an upside down V, feet should be hip width apart. Now lift one leg off the mat, flex the foot and try to lift it as high as you can. On your inhale breath draw the knee into the chest and as you exhale press the foot back. Repeat for 5 breaths on each side, after your first sequence come down onto your knees and rest before beginning the second set.

Warrior 3

In this pose balance on one leg and try to bring your torso as close to parallel with the floor as you can, beginners keep your hands in prayer position at your heart, for a more advanced version draw your arms out over your head so they are inline with your torso, biceps should be at your ears.

Chair Pose

Keeping your feet hip width apart sit back like you would if you were sitting in a chair, the more of a bend in the knees the better. Open up your chest and lift your arms up to a 45 degree angle, biceps should be in line with your ears. To make it harder you can also come up onto your tiptoes.

Bridge Pose

While laying on your back bend your knees placing the soles of your feet onto the mat, lift your hips and draw the arms under your back, palms face down. Keep trying to lift your hips up as high as you can while squeezing your butt, if you want to make it more difficult lift one leg off of the mat and have the sole of the foot facing the sky.

Locust Pose

Lie face down on your mat, arms are behind your back with fingers interlaced and palms together. Now lift your chest up off the mat and at the same time try to draw your thighs off the mat, arms lift away from your back. Keep the neck long with shoulders away from your ears.