Handstands can be challenging. Handstand can be scary. Handstands can be many things. But above all, we have an opportunity to remember that handstands are FUN.
We invite everyone to practice handstands from a state of being playful and explorative. The focus lies on the ‘Being’ qualities – being light-hearted, centered, open, calm and steady, so that we can practice handstands in a cheerful way, open our minds to the journey of going upside down and trust the time and the process, and therefore we have patience, lightness, awareness, freedom and as said before: fun!
Handstands can teach us many things about ourselves and our practice. We learn about the foundations of the practice, which lie in the alignment, the breath, the bandhas (energetic locks) and drishti (eye gaze). These tools are an essential ingredient to all of our practice and become especially important when beginning to move our bodies upside down. Learning about and incorporating these tools will shift, not only our inversion practice, but our practice as a whole, as they bring ease, grace and mindfulness.
Handstands, like any inversion practice, also bring many physical and psychological benefits. Reversing the blood flow when we turn upside down is extremely beneficial to the functioning of all bodily systems and can have rejuvenating effects on the body and the mind. Learning to move into inversions can also teach us about non-attachment to poses and their forms, about humility and detachment from the ego, as well as Svadhyaya (Self-study) as we begin to see the world from a different perspective. The aim is to incorporate these on-the- mat qualities from the practice, into our daily lives off- the-mat.
Personally, the Rocket Vinyasa routines have shifted my handstand practice significantly. For several years, I practiced handstands as a ‘separate entity’ after finishing my practice. I used to approach my handstand practice thinking “Ugh, now I have done my 90 minutes practice and I still have to go and do 10 minutes of handstands.” For me, this created a feeling of pressure and obligation. Few years ago, after my Teacher Trainings with INBODHI Yoga Fuerteventura, I began a regular Rocket practice. My inversions began to change. The most fundamental aspect was my mental and emotional attitude towards handstands.
It's called the Rocket because it "Gets You There Faster"
Having handstands incorporated into the routines and practicing it daily, took away the pressure. For me, non-attachment was a key lesson.
If I kicked up three times and could not hold a handstand, I knew there was another round coming, another practice. This component was essential to my handstand journey. It was no longer about taking extra time or energy to practice 20 handstands in a row, desperate to hold one. Instead, it became about accepting when it didn’t happen, and trusting that the next round would give me another opportunity.
I began to look at handstands differently – they were simply another pose in the routine and there was no need to hold each and every one every single time. It was just that – a practice, daily. Doing free room handstands daily as part of my Rocket practice has been an immense reward for me that has progressively allowed me to move into my handstands with more lightness, breathe upside down more steadily and for longer times, and start playing around with fun variations.
I can only encourage everyone to start where you are and use the tools that you have. Practice handstands and aim to release any attachment related to it.
Focus on moving upside-down with awareness and playfulness. And no matter what you are doing, remember to keep breathing and have fun!
"You are doing great!" - Larry Shultz, the founder and the original "Rocketman"
Inbodhi graduate Kim (200Hr. & Rocket 150Hr.)