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Step-By-Step Breakdown: Handstand

A Total-Body Yoga Challenge

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Handstand pose is often thought of as an advanced yoga pose, and while it does require a tremendous amount of core and arm strength to execute properly, it's a fun way to (literally) flip your perspective. Don't worry if the pose doesn't come to you overnight! Practice makes perfect, and it will happen when you're ready. So don't take it too seriously and have fun!

Prep: Tree Pose

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Begin standing in mountain pose. Transfer weight onto right foot. Bring left foot up to rest on right thigh or shin (not knee) and open outward from hip to the left. Bring hands together at center of chest in a prayer position. Lengthen down through tailbone and draw shoulders down and away from ears, keeping back straight. Breathe here for at least 3 deep breaths. Repeat on other side.

Prep: Downward Dog

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Begin on hands and knees. Tuck toes and lift hips high so that your body forms an upside-down 'V.' Reach heels back toward the mat, but make sure they're not touching the ground. Rotate shoulders down and away from ears as you rotate elbows inward. Drop head so that neck is long. Press into the knuckles of forefinger and thumbs to alleviate pressure from wrists. Breathe here for 3 deep breaths.

Prep: One-Armed One-Legged Plank

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From down dog, roll into plank position. Line up shoulders and wrists, lengthening from the crown of head through heels. Reach left arm forward and lift right foot off the ground. Hold this position for 3 deep breaths. Return to plank position and repeat, this time lifting right arm and left foot. Do 5 reps on each side.

Prep: Standing Split

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Begin in a standing forward bend with both hands on the ground or on supportive blocks. Shift weight onto right foot. Lift left leg high, open left hip, and point toes toward the sky. Walk hands back (on the floor or on blocks) and drop head. For an extra challenge, grab right ankle with one or both hands. Breathe here for at least 3 deep breaths.

Prep: Leg Against Wall

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To prep for handstand, stand facing a wall, about three feet away. Lift leg and place foot against the wall. If you're too far away, scoot forward until your foot is flat against the wall. This is a safe distance for when you try handstand pose—if you fall over backward, the wall will catch you.

Prep: Forward Bend

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Come to a forward fold with feet hip-width apart. Grab opposite elbows, soften knees, and hang like a rag doll to open up spine and hamstrings.

Prep: Warrior III

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From standing forward fold, walk hands underneath shoulders and place them on floor. Keeping knees soft, shift weight onto right foot and float left leg into air. Reach through left heel and internally rotate left thigh so that toes point toward the ground. When you feel steady, lift arms off the ground and reach them forward to frame face. Breathe here. (This is similar to the position you'll be in when you're upside-down).

Prep: Handstand with Leg Against Wall

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Press palms firmly into the ground about a foot and a half in front of right foot, shoulder-width apart. Come high onto the ball of right foot. Using left leg to lift you, transfer weight onto hands or take little hops off right foot until you are upside down. Hop lightly until top foot catches on the wall and breathe there (pictured.) Engage shoulder blades down and together on back, and press into fingertips for stability.

Prep: Split-Leg Handstand

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Begin in a forward fold position. Soften knees and press palms firmly into the ground, shoulder-width apart. Lift left leg toward the sky and come high onto the ball of right foot. Using momentum of left leg to lift you, take little hops on right leg until you're upside down, keeping legs split. Engage shoulder blades and press away and down from ears. Look slightly forward. Try to breathe here for at least 3 deep breaths. Repeat on other side.


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From a split-leg handstand, lift bottom leg up to meet the top in the air or at the wall. Point toes in full handstand position. Breathe here for at least 3 deep breaths.