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YoBa Studio Blog - Raleigh, NC

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Flying High with Heather Barb: Handstand Tips and Tricks

Happy Friday YoBi's! 

We have a guest here on the blog today! We are excited to welcome back Heather Barb - one of our favorite gal pals. This is a great follow-up to our inversion workshop at YoBa Studio and some wonderful practice tips to lead us up to workshop #2!! Comment and let us know how your handstand practice is going! ______________________________________________________________________________________________________ 

Hi friends! Heather, here. I had such an amazing time teaching the Fly High Inversion Workshop at YoBa Studio! The energy in the room was absolutely incredible and you all inspired me with your strength and willingness to try new things!

For those of you that couldn’t make it (we missed you!) but no worries - I have a feeling I will be back really soon! ;) In the meantime, I thought I would share with you some of my favorite tips for finding balance upside down:

1. Overcoming fear: When it comes to learning how to handstand, there’s usually two types of fear that come into play:  the fear of falling, and the fear of being upside down. In the workshop, we practiced cartwheeling out. This is a great way to fall because it allows you to have some sort of control over where you fall, which will hopefully give you a bit more confidence. We also practiced wall walks (finding the handstand position using the wall and walking your hands down the wall) as this is a great way to get comfortable being upside down. It’s also an amazing way to build strength! 

2. Strength over momentum: Momentum is great if you want to get comfortable being upside down against a wall, however it probably won’t help you build the strength you need to hold a handstand safely in the middle of the room. I suggest practicing bent knee kick ups into handstand from standing splits. (See photo examples below). The natural tendency is (in standing splits) to want to take your hands further away from your feet and THEN kick up.  This is an example of using momentum, and will most likely give you that “banana back” shape in the spine which is a hard habit to break. Instead, we want to keep our hands planted on the ground as close to our feet as possible and then kick up (using our core strength!), bending the bottom leg and pulling the knee into the chest to help us find that center of gravity. It will probably feel a little awkward at first, and the first few times you practice this you might not get very far, and that’s perfectly okay! Keep at it. Whether it feels like it or not, you’re building strength in the low core and will soon be on your way to finding some serious hang time! 

3. Bandhas and Breath – the two “B’s”. The breath helps us to create a lightness in our practice.  When we’re upside down, it’s natural to want to hold the breath, but this will only make things harder for us. It’s important to learn how to control the breath and use it to help us find balance and ease while upside down. Along with controlling the breath, it’s important to learn how to activate and control the bandhas. The Bandhas are GAME CHANGERS, but are often overlooked or even unheard of! The Mula Bandha (Root Lock) is engaged on your inhale by lifting the pelvic floor. The easiest way to explain how this works is to imagine you’re using the bathroom and need to stop the flow of urine. *practice now* Feel that? That is activating your Mula Bandha. I know, it sounds weird, but once you get more comfortable incorporating it into your inversion practice you’ll be amazed at the difference it makes! 

4. Spider fingers: (see picture below) Spider fingers help us to avoid collapsing into the wrists.  They also help us balance when we’re upside down! The center point for weight distribution should be the mound/knuckle of the pointer finger. That’s the center contact between hand and floor. Always use spider fingers when balancing upside down! 

5. Incorporating other types of training into your routine:  The handstand requires ALL over body strength. As yogis, we tend to be pretty flexible, so it’s important that we also strengthen our muscles to avoid injury. Two ways we can do this is by incorporating weight training and HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) into our routines. When I was learning how to handstand, I did a lot of HIIT training. I believe this style of training, in combination with a consistent yoga practice, is what helped me build the strength and confidence to take my practice upside down.  I swear by it, which is why I was so inspired to create my Ebook, HIIT to Invert, so I could share it with as many people as possible! HIIT to Invert consists of 8 yoga inspired HIIT circuits designed to build strength specifically for inversions. We also cover other topics such as breath and bandhas and wrist stretches. You can readmore about the program at or check out our Instagram @hiittoinvert where you can see women all over the world using the program! 

6. Consistent practice:  Practice daily. I’ve found that some of the best times to practice are after a yoga class, home practice, or workout. Your body will be nice and warm and ready to go which will set you up for success! 

The last, and in my opinion the most important, piece of advice I can give you is to BELIEVE in yourself. You are SO much stronger than you think you are. Start where you are with what you have. Enjoy the journey and celebrate all of the little victories along the way. 

Until next time, friends - happy inverting! 

XO Heather 


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