Try and Try Again – The Practice of Handstands

by Alison Smith

When was the last time you intentionally turned your world upside down?? I ask because it’s a great practice for when the world gets turned upside down on you!

You see, I have this thing with handstands. I remember the first time I did one in a yoga class…  I remember thinking, “If I can do a handstand, I think I’d be able to do just about anything...” Sounds kinda silly to say out loud, but this single solitary pose became my rallying point for personal transformation. 

I’ve since learned that inversions and arm-balances really help with anxiety and depression, which I’m sure plays a part in why I am so attracted to them. These postures helped me re-discover my own power and inner strength; eventually they helped me re-define who I was.


But handstand didn’t come easy.

I had to kick-up and promptly fall out of a handstand at least 10,000 times, before I ever held the pose for a single second. I probably kicked up at least 100,000 times before I could ever hold the pose for any length of time… and that’s been part of the magic and the great teaching.

I couldn’t actually do the pose for years (yes, that’s plural), but day in and day out – I practiced. I tried. I struggled. I grew. I had to let go of my inner critic, my fears, my stories about my abilities, and even my expectation of “achieving the pose” .  It was letting go that allowed me to trust in the process – the process of handstand, of learning and of life. 

Have you stopped trusting in life?? Have you stopped being a beginner? Do you hold yourself back from trying new things or going after something you want? Do you cling to limiting beliefs about yourself and your capabilities? Does challenge uplift you or diminish you? 

As we add years to our life, our patterns grow stronger. It becomes more challenging to try new things and be a beginner. We become more convinced of our stories and what’s possible (or not). It’s like our experiences – especially all the pain, hurt, disappointment, perceived failure, responsibility and loss – pile up on our shoulders, become locked in our hips, and encrusted around our hearts. So we’re not only mentally or emotionally stuck… now we’re physically stuck too.

Do you want to be unstuck? Do you want to get back that sense of wonder and excitement in life? Do you want to believe in yourself and your ability again?

Do some handstands! Just kidding… well, kinda… I do recommend trying something new, creative, or challenging – on or off your mat. One of the reasons your yoga practice can be remarkably transformative is that it literally breaks up patterns in your body, which breaks up thought patterns and emotional patterns too. It’s that simple and that profound. That’s why trying something new or working consistently with a challenging posture can alter your relationship with yourself and the world around you.

Are you ready to break free of some old patterns? I hope so! because April is Inversion Month and we’re going to be exploring the preparations for Headstand and Shoulderstand. This introduction to inversions will make them approachable for all level of practitioner. Read this blog post for more info – The Art of Inversions.

I teach in the Bay area but don’t worry if you’re not in the Bay Area or can’t get to classes.  I’ve got something for you too! Below is a new YouTube video.This is a Handstand Tutorial with postures to prepare for handstand, strength building variations at the wall and balance building variations. In this tutorial there is something for everyone to learn more about hanging out upside down.


If you need a little warm-up before the tutorial, I recommend the 12-Minute “Instant Energy” Video. This is a breath-based flow style practice that will quickly warm you up, open you up, and bliss you out!




About the Author: Alison Smith is a Yoga Teacher and the creator of Develop a Home Yoga Practice. She is passionate about helping more people experience the extraordinary benefits of yoga and live happier, healthier lives.


  1. WOW if I could do this my hubs would go crazy! lol

  2. Next time I get all stressed out with the blog, I need to start kicking up although it will take me 10,000 times to stay up too!

    • Liz it’s a great way to de-stress… and if you start with a wall you’ll get there faster than you think.. and the extra blood flow to your head is an awesome way to get those creative juices flowing! Have fun!

  3. I saw people at FitBlogNYC in a yoga class and thought those who did handstands were AWESOME! I’m going to stay trying them, mostly becasue they scare me and I know it will be great to conquer that fear!

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