There are many upsides to keeping your head down.  Even the catchy lyrics of Paloma Faith’s song says so.

I’ll tell you what,
What I have found,
That I’m no fool,
I’m just upside down.
 ‘Paloma Faith’

The health benefits of being upside down are widely known. From improved brain function and mood to increased upper-body strength. They also allow you to look at the world from a different perspective -and given our current run of headlines- there are some days that you could really use this skill.

Politics aside; because handstand practice is fun, because so many people want to learn how to do them, and because here at The elbowroom we know a lot of stuff.  We have put together a few pointers to help you to overcome your inversion aversion.

TIP1.  As Szell said to Babe in Marathon Man… IS IT SAFE?

It might sound obvious but check that you have space. Move obstacles like furniture, plants and pictures out of the way but more importantly.  REMOVE SMALL PEOPLE AND PETS TO A PLACE OF SAFETY. Theirs, not yours.

imgresThese small creatures are curious things. They will sidle over to find out what you are doing and they will want to be involved. It’s is better for everyone concerned if these soft and squishy things are not used to cause or to break your fall.

One last thing… Wash your hands. Hand cream is not your friend.


imgres-1It is important that you enter your handstands from a place of control. Before you hurl yourself up against that wall for the first time in years, take a moment to visualise the movement. How you might feel, how it will look in your mind’s eye. Then treat yourself to a few slow belly breaths. Handstands take a great deal of upper-body strength but they also need your body and mind to be connected. Stay present.


Once again this might sound obvious. After you have visualised your goal, done some breathing exercises, before you ask your wrists to take your full bodyweight, you need to warm up. Hand and wrist exercises such as balling your hands, wrists circles, hand rubbing and dynamic hand stretches are important. Postures like downward dog, three-legged dog and planks help with proprioception (where your body parts are in relationship to each other and the space you occupy.)  Strength building exercises like planks, pushups and core strength and stability should also become part of your daily handstand practice.


You need a solid foundation and in this case, it’s your hands. Start with an attainable goal. imgres-2Try half handstands. Keep one or both feet connected to a wall. It will afford you some stability whilst you are building upper-body strength and stamina.  For me, it also makes sense to draw comparisons from the development of a child in relationship to walking. From the first time small humans put weight on their feet, to the time when they stand unsupported takes months of regular, repeated, well-practised movements. If you really want to nail your handstand this is your approach and like a child learning to walk, each milestone should be enjoyed and celebrated.


Whatever phase of your handstand you are practising. Whatever your goal.  It will require practice, patience and perseverance.

Once you’ve launched yourself:

  • Stay there for 5 slow breaths or about 15/20 seconds.
  • Repeat this 5 times.
  • When this becomes comfortable, increase the length of time or number of breaths.
  • Repeat it 5 times.

This is how you build confidence and strength in the upper body.
When you can hold your chosen variation for a consecutive 2 minutes, with reasonable control and without wrist pain you will be ready to move off the wall.

Have fun, stay safe and most importantly enjoy the process.


About the author: Lisa Wilkinson

Lisa Wilkinson

Lisa opened The elbowroom in February 2003. Mother to Tuilelaith and Sean, director of The elbowroom and with a crew of over 60 staff, she is a busy bee. Lisa leads a team committed to bringing health and vitality to all of her clients. Lisa currently teaches in our yoga training programs and oversees pregnancy yoga and mum & baby yoga. Lisa works hard developing healthy food choices for Yin & Tonic @ The elbowroom. She specialises paediatric and pregnancy with workshops, yoga therapy, and craniosacral therapy.

The elbowroom has an extensive range of classes for all ages and abilities. We offer such an eclectic mix to enable you to find something that will suit you. If you need any advice, please contact our class advisor who can point you in the right direction.