Peak Pose Sequence: Handstand

I know I’m not alone in my love for Handstand. It’s empowering, strengthening, and fun. Whether you’re working at the wall, in a studio, or trying to do the pose on a paddleboard, the following sequence will help you build a strong, stable Handstand.

Here’s a look at my thought process when putting together the Handstand prep yoga sequence.

I like to include four preparatory stages when teach Handstand:
1. Connect students to the core
2. Connect to the hands
3. Open the shoulders
4. Set the tone for balancing with standing balances.

Encouraging a connection to deep, rhythmic breath is a given—especially in sequences that include challenging postures.

I hope this practice helps you feel more calm, confident, and strong in Handstand! Please let me know how it goes in the Comments below.

Poses 1-5: Core Connection The first five postures in this sequence will awaken all of your abdominal muscles, pelvic floor, and hip-flexors in preparation for the Handstand that is down the road.

Your core plays two primary roles in Handstand. First, your core helps you move the weight of your pelvis as you jump or press into Handstand. Second, your core helps keep your pelvis stacked directly above your ribcage.

Poses 6-8: Shoulder Opening One of the hidden obstacles in Handstand is tight shoulders. If your shoulders are tight (specifically, ball and socket flexion and scapular lateral rotation), it will difficult to establish a vertical plum line. If your body is not well aligned from top to bottom, all of your muscles will have to work even harder to maintain the pose. By practicing these shoulder openers, you will release restrictions and prepare your shoulders for the demands of Handstand.

Pose 9: Connecting to Your Hands Your hands are the single most important component of balancing in Handstand. You have to learn to be mindful of and responsive with your hands in the pose. Down Dog is included in this sequence to provide you the opportunity to focus on your hands and fingers. By rooting down evenly through your fingertips and the circumference of your palms, you will imprint the work you will need to do with your hands in Handstand.

 Poses 10-14: Establishing Balance Balancing in Handstand is hard unless you trained as a gymnast or cheerleader when you were a kid. Sure, it’s doable, but it’s still hard. These standing balances will get you in balancing mode. Allow your body to sway slightly and focus on breathing instead of becoming tense and rigid. Notice all of the activity in your feet, toes, and lower legs. These parts of your body in standing balances are equivalent to your hands, fingers, and forearms in Handstand. They have to stay active and responsive to help you maintain balance. I’ve included Triangle Pose in between the other standing balances to provide you with a strong and stable counterpoint.

Poses 15: Turn Upside Down Uttanasana provides a calming, grounding posture before you transition into Handstand.

 Pose 16: Peak Pose: Handstand (Adho Mukha Vrksasana) For many students, getting into Handstand is more difficult than balancing in the pose. If getting into Handstand remains elusive, be patient and consistent with this sequence. It’s best to work on the pose in the presence of a qualified instructor until you feel confident getting into the pose on your own. In the meantime, this sequence will strengthen and open your body and help you make progress. For those of you who can get into Handstand, practice the posture at the wall and focus on holding the pose for longer increments of time—-ideally building up to one minute in the pose before working on balancing in the middle of the room. Good luck!

{illustrations by MCKIBILLO}


  1. Gracias por los consejos y asanas! Sat Nam Namaste!

    • You’re welcome, Damian!

  2. This is amazing. Poses that will prepare your body for the handstand should be done to warm up the body and strengthen the core. Your core is key to help you perform handstands without fear of injury or falling down. Great pose and wonderful selection of yoga sequence.

  3. I’m glad you like the sequence! Thanks for letting me know.

  4. Thanks for a nice sequence of poses that I will work into my handstand prep. Andrea’s blog post on surrender is a good companion piece to this practice … I especially love the Richard Rosen quote … while putting in the persistent effort towards the goal of reaching handstand, I should probably release my attachment to attaining that goal. (But I ***really*** want it!) Serenity now!

  5. Hi Jason,

    Could you give some alternatives for handstand and headstand please? For safety reasons, I don’t like to do them at home alone.

    Thank you.

    • I completely respect this choice, Lorraine. You could do half-handstand where you put your feet on the wall. You could do down dog or standing forward bend with head support. In down dog, you would use a bolster or a block; in handstand, you’d use a chair or couple of blocks. You could also do a supported backbend like bridge pose with a block under your sacrum. All of these postures will get you upside down!

  6. Wow that was unusual. I just wrote an very long comment but
    after I clicked submit my comment didn’t appear.
    Grrrr… well I’m not writing all that over again. Regardless,
    just wanted to say fantastic blog!

  7. Thank you for being such a clear & informed resource for teachers. You are very good at what you do and we are all very grateful that you share your knowledge of wealth!

    • You’re welcome, Rachel!!

  8. This is so helpful thank you!

  9. You’re welcome, Lily!

  10. Jason,Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge with us! I have only recently discovered you and your wife and I am so grateful for that.
    These sequenses are full of clarity and easy to connect the dots.
    I promise myself to meet you in person very soon and experience your teaching live!
    Blessings to you and your family!
    See you soon!

    • Thanks, Darina!

  11. Just attended your fabulous weekend training in Bethlehem, PA. I mentioned in class that I balance my elbows on my triceps in bakasana/crow (to much hilarity, I might add). Just wanted to share after practicing crow from 1/2 boat and on my back, with your instructions, I have completely nailed the correct way to crow by pulling strongly in. In fact, it now seems easy and very stable. Who would have ever thought crow could easy? You are the best! Thanks to Andrea for the most interesting podcast our in the podverse.

    • Thanks so much, Julie! I’m glad you enjoyed the weekend as much as I did!

  12. I am very grateful with all your work for helping us as teachers; sometimes we think we bored our students with the same preparations postures and here you are helping us to remind us and opening the varietity. Thanks a lot and keep on sharing all your experience with no ego
    Xoxoxoxox thanks!!!

    • You’re welcome, Annabelle!

  13. Hi Jason,
    I have recently discovered your podcast and webpage and enjoy everything, thanks for sharing.
    I have been trying handstand without the wall for three years…I can do it with the wall but not without, which is my purpose. I can do all the asanas you suggest to prepare it, I can even do headstand without the wall, crow… Now I’m practicing endurance, as you suggested, trying to be in handstand with the wall for one minute. But, why is it so difficult for me? Some suggestion?
    Thanks in advance.

    • Thanks, Ana. The honest truth is that handstand in the middle of the room is just really, really [email protected]#$ hard! Hang in there and enjoy!

  14. Hi Jason, many thanks for sharing this informative sequence for getting into handstand.

    I am unsure of how to transition from uttansana to headstand. Do you kick the legs up (as I see many people do) or slowly hover the legs off the floor (bending at knees and then work on straightening the legs up)?

    Many thanks!

  15. Face looking at the floor or top of the head facing the floor? Thanks


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