Do you need a wall to feel safe?
Am I cheating if I use a wall?
There are lots of misconceptions about handstands, and lots of different elements that we can focus on within our training.
One of my favourite things about handstands is that it is simultaneously challenging and at the same time gentle on the body, meaning that it is a practice, which can be worked on into later years of life.
There are a lot of people who would argue that it is not gentle on the body. However if you work them appropriately, there is no impact on the body, and you strengthen the bones by applying lines of force. So as long as you take the time to let the shoulders open and don’t rush or push too hard too soon, it is a challenging practice that can serve for many many years.
Using a wall for Handstand Practice
To answer the question of ‘Am I cheating if I use a wall?’
Quite simply the answer is No, but you are missing out on what I believe to be the most beautiful element of handstands, which is the meditation of balance.
If you don’t feel ready yet to attempt handstands away from the wall, then I would encourage you to use the wall in different ways. Here I show you a few simple ways to do so, but there are many more!
1 - Facing the wall Handstand
This is a great way to start hand-standing. Going upside down gets scary and this method allows us to put ourselves on to our hands, stacking the weight very precisely and only going as far as feels safe. This lets us develop the strength and build the awareness of upside down very progressively with no sudden surprises.
2 - Back against the wall
This is a good next step; jumping or kicking up into a handstand with the wall behind you to stop you going too far. The focus will change along with your handstand proficiency. A good first focus is to make sure you are getting all the way up and finding the balance of upside down leaning against the wall. This can develop into just lightly or almost not touching the wall as you kick up, so you are developing your understanding of how much you need to jump/kick/swing/push!
3 - Belly against the wall
Within the world of acrobatics, there is often a lot of focus on the straight-line handstand. Belly against the wall is a good way to practice this. The idea is that you get as close to the wall as possible, and with your toes pointed towards the ceiling you touch only your shoelaces against the wall. You also need to push as tall as possible, getting everything else as close to the wall as you can without touching.
This is pretty hard and it is important to have a plan of how to come down safely. If you have the power to walk on your hands, this could be to walk away until there is space or else you want to make sure there is space to the side so that you can twist out. If in doubt make sure you have a spotter who knows how to help you keep your first tries safe.
4 - Back away from the wall!
I love this one, and it is a really simple idea. The wall gives us lots of security, and so to develop a greater sense of independence and move towards balance, we can simply do the same as number 2, only further away from the wall.
This fills the head with a lot more doubt, but you can still reach the wall when it is a metre or so behind you; and it is still as strong as it always was. The doubt increases your confidence within yourself and gives you more time and space to play with the balance.
Please share with me how you like to use the wall to help your handstand J