This #HandstandFebruary our resident Acro-Queen Dora is sharing her TOP 5 secrets to make magic in your handstands!

Find Doras 5 secrets for handstand magic below along with some handy resources for you put them into practice…

Join us in class and online, and tag us in your handstand pictures as we get upside down! #handstandfebruary #leedsaerialarts

1. Alignment

Before anything else we want to make sure we’ve got a nice stacked alignment. Shoulders, hips and hands all in one line, the shoulders are shrugged towards the ears and the pelvis tilted (think hip bones towards your ribs).

Quite often when we first practice handstands we find ourselves in a ‘banana back’ position, looking forward and with an arched lower back to bring the feet to the wall. This is totally normal, to begin with, but as we get more confident, finding that straight alignment will help us to balance for longer (think about how much easier it is to stand up straight for a long period of time than with your hips really pressed forward and back arched). Good straight-line alignment will also help us stay injury-free, and let’s be honest – it looks way cooler 🙂 

Train your Alignment:

  • Handstand Drills LIVE Online Wednesdays 5:15pm – Classes always welcome BEGINNERS and include time for individual feedback to level up your handstand whatever your starting point 🙃.

2. Tightness / Engagement 

That alignment is HARD to keep, so we want to make sure our muscles are active to give us a fighting shot at holding it. We want to shrug the shoulders, think of the lats wrapping around the shoulder blades, draw the ribs and belly in and squeeze those glutes. A tight body is a light body! 

Train for Tightness & Engagement:

  • Pull Up Bar Drills LIVE Online Tuesdays 7:30pm – Work on your shoulder and core positioning the right way up! Pay-as-you-feel on the pull-up bar 💪
  • Strength Drills For Aerialists LIVE Online Thursday 6:15pm – Join Lorna every week for a full-body blast on the mat, no equipment needed.

Can’t make it LIVE? We have pre-recorded strengthening available on our website AND a series of FREE pull up bar workouts on our YouTube channel. No excuses!

3. Balance

Then comes the tricky part. We want to be able to use our HANDS to balance, rather than our legs, shoulders or hips. Try to get into your best alignment, make your body super tight – and then, using the wall, try to rock your weight into the fingers and back towards the heels of the hands. Eventually, we want to be able to have the weight in our knuckles and keep it there, but we need to get confident with the weight shifting through the hand in order to fight to keep the balance. 

How do I Train Balance?

  • Powerful Postures Yoga LIVE Online Mondays 6:00pm – Train your strength and control through a series of arm balances, binds and yoga postures. With a new focus each week this class will get you on your hands, strengthening and playing 🔥

Can’t make it LIVE? Gaby has pre-recorded a Headstand Flow here!

“Balance is not about being in one perfect, completely still place. Balance is a state of adjusting, shifting, evolving, living within as we move forward.

In this ever changing world, we are now being challenged to adjust and evolve in all aspects of life, often at rapid speeds!”

Gaby – Yoga Instructor at Leeds Aerial Arts.

Find Gabys full take on finding balance in the mind, movement and yoga below, along with some tools for you to find your balance this week HERE

4. Flexibility

Kicking up to, and holding, a handstand requires way more flexibility than you might think! First of all – the higher you can lift your top leg as you kick up, the less power your bottom foot will need. That’s your hip flexors and hamstrings (think front splits). Then, as we kick up, we want to pull the bottom leg as close to the body as possible so it comes up effortlessly and we stay in control. That’s your hip compression (think pike). That’s before we’ve even thought about the shoulders! Lifting the arms up and above the head, at shoulder distance apart, without letting the back arch is super hard. Plus, we’re putting our entire body weight into our arms at that position so not only are they in a deep stretch, they also need to be active and engaged. Flexibility plays a big part in your handstand! 

“Flexibility and strength go hand in hand, you can’t have one without the other, and handstands are the perfect example and skill to show off both!

Flexibility training is all about learning how to isolate and control muscles in our body, learning when to engage and relax certain muscles. Practicing this work and body understanding will make learning new skills, like handstands, a lot easier!”

Kathryn – Flexibility and Aerial Coach at Leeds Aerial Arts.

Train your flexibility:

  • You can find a full schedule of LIVE online & studio stretch classes on our booking page.

Can’t make it LIVE? Find hours of pre-recorded stretch drills in our ANYTIME Library, including Hamstring Stretches, Hip Openers, Splits, Active Drills and LOADS more!

5. Practice

For years I was stuck at the stage where I was happy kicking up but I couldn’t balance a handstand for more than 2 seconds… Sound familiar? I didn’t know where I was going wrong – I was attending so many handstand workshops and knew my alignment and tightness/engagement were all good. Then I gave myself a ‘100 days of handstands’ challenge. Just one handstand every day for 100 days. It was such a lightbulb moment – by about day 45 I was kicking up and consistently holding the balance. If you were a toddler learning to walk, you’d practice a little bit every day, wouldn’t you? Not just once weekly for an hour at a time. That’s why #handstandfebruary is such a great opportunity to get consistent in your handstands. Just a bite-sized practice every day goes a LONG way! 

✨ Train with Dora ✨

Handstand Drills every Wednesday
5:15-6:00pm LIVE Online

Doras classes follow the ABT method give you a mix of alignment, balance and tighness drills.

Classes always welcome BEGINNERS and include time for individual feedback to level up your handstand whatever your starting point.

Can’t make the LIVE class? No problem! Dora has pre-recorded a class for you to train available in our Online Shop.


Happy Handstanding!

We’d love to see how you’re getting on – send us your questions and tag us in your progress pics and achievements @leedsaerialarts

Love from Lorna, Dora and the Team