The Benefits of Handstands

handstandIs there something you are striving for and diligently focused on achieving? Don’t give up. For four years I wanted to go up into a handstand without the assistance of a yoga teacher or wall.  Some days I got really close, but most days I surrendered to my body and mind. Yoga class or at-home practice, it wasn’t happening beyond a half-handstand or cartwheel. I kept trying. Year after year. And then two months ago, during a Saturday afternoon yoga class, I popped right up. Call it willpower, call it luck, call it whatever you want, I had a smile for a mile. An unexpected matter of fruition is an example of everything: patience and practice pay off. Curiosity lead me to the benefits of adho mukha vrksasana as told by Krista Stryker on Mind Body Green:

They’ll make your upper body super strong.

In order to stay upside down for any length of time, you’ll need a massive amount of shoulder, arm, and upper back strength. In fact, it’s not uncommon for beginners to start shaking after just a few seconds of holding a handstand.

To build up strength, start by holding a handstand against a wall for three sets of 5-10 seconds. Work up to holding them for a minute or two at a time. Practice often, and watch as your upper body strength skyrockets.

They’ll increase your balance

If you’ve ever tried a handstand, you know that besides needing to be strong to do them, you’ll also need to have substantial balancing skills as well in order to be able to hold yourself up. Freestanding handstands, especially, require you to be able to have full control over your muscles and to constantly make small adjustments to avoid falling.

Practicing freestanding handstands or doing handstands against a wall and trying to take your feet off the wall for as long as possible will help increase your balancing abilities like no other exercise can.

They can boost your mood.

Not only will handstands make you strong and help improve your balancing abilities, handstands can also make you feel happier, since the blood flow to your brain has an energizing and calming effect, especially when you’re feeling really stressed out.

Another way handstands can help your mood is by reducing the production of the stress hormone, cortisol, which can not only de-stress you in the short-term but could also help relieve minor depression and anxiety.

They build core strength.

There’s no need to spend hours focusing just on your abs — you can have fun doing handstands and build core strength as well.

Since staying upside down forces you to stabilize your muscles, you’re constantly working your abs, as well as other key muscle groups such as your hip flexors, hamstrings, inner thigh muscles, obliques and lower back while in a handstand. Training handstands every day will get you a well balanced, super strong core.

They help with bone health, circulation and breathing.

Since handstands are technically a weight-bearing exercise, they can help strengthen your bones, making you less prone to osteoporosis. Handstands are also beneficial for your spine, and help aid bone health in your shoulders, arms and wrists.

Not only that, the upside-down nature of a handstand can increase circulation to your upper body, while relieving pressure on your feet and legs and stretching your diaphragm at the same time, which in turn can increase blood flow to your lungs.

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