Handstands, Stress, and Weight Loss
Did you know that you can boost your metabolism, reduce stress, and speed up weight loss by doing handstands? Doesn’t it sound like fun? I love the idea of using fun activities to improve my health, fitness and mood. Handstands can do all of those things for you.
The picture at the top of this page is just for show, that I just really wanted to use. Read on about the proper form and see the other picture below.
What’s interesting and worthy knowing is that when you put your hands on the ground and swing your legs up to bring your body upside down, blood starts flowing through your neck into your head pretty fast. That stimulates the endocrine system in your body which has several important functions. The endocrine system is made out of glands and each one of them secretes different type of hormones into your bloodstream in order to regulate the internal environment in your body.
Handstand stimulates the adrenal glands that sit at the top of the kidneys and helps reduce production of the “stress hormone” Cortisol. When the blood moves into your neck, it stimulates the thyroid gland that produces it’s two main hormones T3 and T4. These hormones control the metabolic rate, and how fast your body uses energy and makes proteins. When the handstand brings the blood into your head, it stimulates the pituitary gland, which is responsible for setting the point for a healthy weight.
Doing a handstand on a daily basis sounds like something that could help to elevate your mood and shake off your every day stress that can otherwise build up into an anxiety. On top of that, who doesn’t want to have a faster metabolism and keep a healthy weight? If you can’t relate to what I’m talking about, then you’re probably still in your twenties or younger. In that case, you should still take my advice and start doing handstands now, before you even start experiencing real stress and natural metabolic decline that comes with age. I don’t want to scare you, but it’s real 🙂
Building your strength for Handstand
The best way to build your strength for a handstand is through plank and elevated plank, because this exercise just like a handstand requires good wrist flexibility, strong arms, and core muscles. If you can hold a regular plank without dropping your hips and sagging your shoulders for at least 30 seconds, you can advance into an elevated plank. If you are not experiencing any pain in your wrists, elbows, or shoulders, while holding the leg elevated plank, then you can try standing on your hands.
When you are practicing handstands, it should always be in a calm and steady manner. You want your body to be firm in the inverted position but not completely rigid. Imagine that you have springs in your shoulders, elbows, and wrists that you can easily tighten up when you need to, however the springiness is what you need to be able to adjust easily and quickly whenever you feel like you’re losing balance. It’s no different than watching a dancer balancing on one leg. They have to keep a great posture yet keep the fluidity of the motion. In other words, to much rigidity can hurt you as much as a weak form and posture. The key is to find a balance which will take some time and patience!
It’s quite obvious that beginners should practice their handstands in front of a wall. I am not a beginner so I do practice my handstands in an open space however, I am not afraid to fall over because I am pretty confident in bridge pose which is where I usually end up. My suggestion is, do not try handstand in an open space unless you have someone who can catch your legs and help you down safely, or make sure that you are flexible and strong enough to go into bridge right from the handstand in case you lose your balance.
Beginners should place their hands one or two inches from the wall and shoulder width apart. Keep one leg extended and take a step forward with the other leg that will be push you off of the floor. Take a few hops reaching the extended leg up and against the wall. Once you feel confident to do the full handstand, push off with more power, but try not to slam your body and legs agains the wall. You have to be able to control your movement and swing your legs up to the wall with ease and lightness. You can compare handstand posture to your regular standing posture. That comparison in your head will help you to realize if you have a natural arch in your lower back or if you are arching too much. In case that you are arching too much, try to focus on sliding your heels higher up the wall by bringing your tailbone towards your heels and your front ribs towards your torso to lengthen your entire body. Hold the position for as long as it’s comfortable but not longer than 1 minute. At the beginning 5 seconds will seem like a long time, which is completely normal. Repeat 3 to 5 times with at least 30 seconds to 1 minute in between each handstand.
The most important thing is to have fun just like you used to have as a child. Kids don’t get frustrated with their handstands either. They do them simply for fun and because they enjoy the process of learning the skill. It’s ok to let go sometimes, and embrace the child within. You don’t need to be always a fighter and warrior 🙂