Sand + Handstands = Balance

“Harmony is a beautiful balance between mind, body, and soul,

measured in tender, peaceful moments.”

~Melanie Koulouri

beach handstandsYesterday I took my kids to a nearby lake to enjoy a burst of warmth and sun.  It has been cold here in VT this past week, we even had fires going in our wood stove!  So on this sweet end of summer Sunday we hit “the beach”.  


There is something about sand that makes me want to do handstands.  Ever since I was a kid I have practiced handstands on the firm sand by the water.  Today, in my 36 years, it is no different.  I am not the best at handstands, I can’t seem to get past the 3-4 second hover, but I love playing with them.

There’s the kicking up.  This part takes a letting go and a trust.  It is a big ole mental trip letting my feet fly up in the air.  I must say I have gotten better at this since practicing aerial yoga where there are plenty of upside down poses. 


Then there’s the hover, that moment of pause, brief as it is for me, but that sweet spot of balance is a moment of bliss!


And then there’s the return.  Which is sometimes more like a fall.  Sometimes graceful, and sometimes not.


This pose, though it does take healthy arms and shoulders, isn’t about muscling through, it is more about knowing where my center is, and activating my “core” muscles.  I love this pose for its seeming deception like that.  I have learned a lot from practicing handstands.


Every way you move and hold the body, there are muscles that act, muscles that support that action, stabilizers, and muscles that can more or less relax.  


The body has an intelligence and if left to its own will would know just what to do in this complex arrangement which is different for every move, every hold.  However, life’s experiences can get in the way.


You carry old injuries, old emotional memories, anticipation, and stress in the body.  All of these and more interfere with that natural organic harmonic dance of the musculature and connective tissue.  Then you get mixed messages and start building funny movement and holding patterns.  


And then when you move and hold the muscles you more deeply ingrain these funny patterns.  This then throws the whole thing off even more.  What’s a human to do?!?!


Each of us has the opportunity at any given moment to unwind these patterns and recreate new ones.  (caveat: sometimes it is not easy, and some people will tell you it’s not possible…what I do know, is we at least have A LOT of room to affect change that will leave us more graceful, in less stress and pain, and capable of stronger movement!)


I have learned this type of rearrangement in handstand.  I learned that there is a certain and specific core lift to activate, a certain stability in the shoulders that takes some of the effort out of the arms, a certain lengthening in the legs that helps control them, and of course a specific and steady gaze and breath.


It is not necessarily intuitive to do this rearranging, which is why it is good to get help.  


What you can do on your own right now is begin to open up your awareness.  

Begin by taking a few deep breaths to signal your mind a new type of perspective is coming and to shift your attention from any chatter going on, and into body awareness.


Then just notice how your body is feeling.  Allow for any and all sensations, and do your best not to self judge, or follow any elaborate story that goes along with a particular sensation.  Just observe.


After a thorough inventory, get curious.  Are there places of obvious tension or holding that you can let go of?  Is there a little shift that would help you to feel more aligned?  


Then start to respond to your body’s intelligence. Let it go where it wants to go, even if it feels unfamiliar.  Then notice how that feels.  


Often in rebuilding postural habits it takes a new muscular effort, which can be discouraging.  

Keep practicing awareness, curiosity, and response to your body’s wisdom, and the new positions can eventually become habit.  

Get support of a trained professional with an intuitive eye.

Share your story, allow yourself to be witnessed.

Play. Bring a sense of lightness to your experience.

This re-learning of your SELF is empowering. You got this!

Happy Equinox!  



Craving a community where movement is medicine,

where body practices are nourishment, not punishment?

Join the discussion in my private Facebook Group e-motion HERE!


1 Comment

  1. Anonymous says:

    Keep working on opening up your shoulders and you’ll have a floating, stacked straight handstand soon enough.

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