If you’ve been following my blog, you’ll know that I started my yoga obsession around August 2014. It’s been an amazing four months and I feel such joy being comfortable with my body again. What makes yoga difficult is that you know there is always work to be done, that there is always another level that you can work towards, even if you are the most flexible and strong athlete, there is always something to strive for. But the fact of the matter is, we all start from nothing and that it is possible for everyone and anyone – whether fat or thin, tall or short – to make progress.
My “white elephant” is the handstand press.
What is it? This involves pressing your arms into the ground and lifting your legs straight up overhead, without jumping into a handstand. I look at how beautiful this movement is and feel that this is completely out of reach for me, that I will likely never be able to do it. A year ago, I had no interest nor did I know what a handstand press was; six months ago was the first time I became aware of it and within the past three months, I kept thinking, I want this. I want to be able to press into a handstand one day.
It took Kino McGregor ten years to do this, but when I see videos on Instagram, it reminds me that it is possible for anyone. Yes, I have previously mentioned the #QuestforthePress and decided to drop it. However, the reason why I am bringing it up again is due to the progress I’ve been making, specifically starting to find my balancing point in a handstand and balancing in the two-legged hop just this past week.
While working on the press will not be a part of my regular training yet, I thought I’d document my starting point. My ultimate goal is to be able to do a handstand press by my 40th birthday. Yep, that’s about 8 years from now, which seems pretty far off, but I know it seems like a reasonable timeline I can work towards. I don’t intend to even work on press handstands for the next year, depending on the progress I make on decreasing the tightness of my hamstrings. If you’re wondering why this matters, take a look at the pictures below.
In this first image, you can see that the restrictions in my hamstrings prevent me from bringing my legs closer to my torso. Traditionally, in a press handstand, your feet start off much closer. Since the weight distribution of my body is still quite dispersed far back, this means that I would need an extreme amount of upper body strength to lift off.
With the aid of foam blocks however, I can lift my hips up better, almost over my hands. My back is rounded up, I am leaning forward so that the centre of gravity is more centered around my torso. For practice, I am leaning my head into the wall, which is what is suggested by this Gold Medal Bodies tutorial.
This is where I am starting. This will be a long journey in itself and I likely won’t even mention the press handstand for a while, but just writing this down helps me get the process started.