Taking small steps is the fastest way to progress in any new skill. Unfortunately, handstands are almost never taught according to this dictum. Especially with a physical feat as unusual as standing or walking on your hands, every student and most teachers want the outcome, the end result of balancing upside down, very quickly. It is human nature to see a goal and attempt to accomplish that outcome now. But in the case of handstands, this push impedes progress.
Make Learning Easier
There are two ways to adopt new behaviors: increase motivation or decrease the barrier for entry. As a fitness trainer, I have seen that the primary way people are “encouraged” to get more fit is through pressure and guilt. This results in gym goers feeling guilty for not ever using their memberships. The same holds true for handstands. Many more people want to learn handstands than actually take the time to break down handstands into the component, learnable parts, and practice them regularly enough to achieve mastery.
Take Baby Steps
Consider how infants learn to walk: they take innumerable, incremental steps, while maintaining a sweet curiosity that keeps them from becoming overwhelmed. If you fail repeatedly and then get frustrated you will be slower to achieve your ultimate goal. Instead we will examine all of the incremental steps that make up learning handstands, just like an infant learns to scoot, crawl, and cruise before walking freely on her own. Have patience, and follow the steps. If you do, you will learn your fearless handstands very quickly!
Make Practice Easy
Handstands are quite easy to learn when practiced as component parts. Instead of just forcing an inversion and hoping for the best, the baby steps that make up a handstand can be practiced incrementally as simple habits built into daily life.
Tiny Habit Handstand Recipes
After I get out of bed in the morning, I will place both hands on the ground.
I like “place both hands on the ground” as a new behavior because it is so simple and effortless to do. It takes practically no time. It is a tiny behavior that can stand alone as a part of practicing handstands, but it can also grow into more complex movements like moving around on all fours, or actually being upside down.
After I eat breakfast, I will move around on all fours.
“Moving around on all fours” is something every toddler does but most of us as adults have forgotten. By its nature it is playful. I choose the kitchen because there is usually space in the kitchen for some more dynamic movement. This behavior, too, is a complete habit by itself, but can also grow into more complete handstands.
After I brush my teeth at night, I will imagine myself being upside down.
This habit is a good nighttime activity because it is quieter than the previous two, while still in the direction of learning to do a handstand. By imagining the activity without actually doing it, we practice the desired behavior without much of the physical limitations that might otherwise standing in the way. Additionally, imagining practice provides useful insight into the nature of our fears of being upside down.
How To Balance a Fearless Handstand
If you are interested in learning more about all of the pieces necessary to balance a handstand, I’ve recently published a short e-book on this topic. Using the Tiny Habits Method, I’ve been able to refine my own handstands and teach this skill to hundreds of others. Learn more at http://www.fearlesshandstands.com.