barre handstand

How your barre class can help you perfect your first handstand

Words: Gemma Dawkins

We all know yoga and inversions go hand in hand – just take a peek at Instagram and you’d be forgiven for thinking that most yoga classes must require you to spend more time upside down than on your feet! But you may not know how much your (nice and upright) barre class is actually giving you the tools you need to achieve liftoff.

Here’s how:

  1. It’s all in the core

Contrary to popular belief, the key to nailing a handstand isn’t just brute upper body strength. While it is of course important that you have enough strength in your shoulders and arms to hold yourself up, core strength is what will actually keep you up there. That’s why so many handstand drills and conditioning exercises don’t involve kicking your legs up a wall at all. Instead, you’ll find yourself practicing back extension and abdominal strength exercises – the very same ones you finish every single barre class with!

  1. Neutral posture is key when the floor is on the ceiling

You’ve heard it so many times during barre class you know it off by heart: stack your shoulders over your hips and lengthen your spine. We work on perfecting neutral spine in every section of class, whether you’re upright at the barre or laying on your mat. The good news? Neutral is neutral whether you’re standing on your hands or your feet. If you know how to maintain great posture while you’re upright, then chances are it will be a little easier to come back to that position even when you’re upside down.

  1. Mind over matter really matters

The ground doesn’t look so far away when you’re standing up. But hop upside down and all of a sudden a wave of vertigo hits you and lifting your feet off the floor seems too scary to imagine! The thing is, your body is more than capable of doing this. All you need to do is let go of the fear that’s holding you back. Like lots of fitness challenges, the handstand really is mind over matter. And thankfully, your barre class has given you plenty of practice in training your body to push past your mentality. Think of all the times you’ve managed ‘just 8 more’ while your leg shakes uncontrollably beneath you. Or how many times you’ve reached the end of a glute series only to have your instructor spring a bonus round on you? You already know how to calmly tell your mind that yes, you actually can do this.

  1. We’ve done the prep for you

Believe it or not, simple yoga sequences prepare your body for handstands in both strength and mobility. And since Barre Body classes fuse vinyasa yoga with barre conditioning, you’ve been running through those prep poses without even realising it. From Downward Dog to this pike at the barre (remember when we got you doing pushups in this position?) you’ve already laid the foundations for a beautiful handstand to emerge from!

  1. The barre is the perfect handstand partner

You’ve nailed your planks, your posture couldn’t be more neutral, and all those Downward Dogs have got you feeling comfortable being upside down. But still, the moment of kicking off from the floor evades you. If only there was a nice convenient step half way between floor and ceiling. Here’s where the barre comes in – providing a perfect balancing point for you to rest your toes on without lifting all the way up into handstand. From here, you can leave one foot balancing on the barre while you raise the other leg to the ceiling. You’ll be able to adjust slowly to the feeling and eventually find yourself floating both legs up into full handstand!

For the month of June, our Move of the Month is – you guessed it – handstand play. So, if you’re lucky enough to be near a Barre Body studio, join us as we start from the ground up and ease our way into handstands galore.