The Sustainable Handstand Programme!
Welcome to The Sustainable Handstand Programme!
I hope you are as excited to be starting this journey as I have been in designing this course. I also hope you will take the time to read this whole introductory chapter as it is as essential as any warm-up.
Let me introduce myself. My name is Helena. I have worked for many years as a pastry chef, a job that taught me the importance of technique, attention to detail, the pleasantness of aesthetics but also the priority of taste, and the ability to feel tension and relaxation in my fingers. Handstands came upon me accidentally, the way Summer storms do. One day, halfway through a movement class I was attending, the coach said: “Now we’re going to handstand walk to the wall!” And I couldn’t. I was terrified of being upside down, and it took me months to overcome the fear before I was finally able to perform a wall facing handstand. By then I had developed the stubbornness that still characterises me today.
My weaknesses are my strengths. I started training very late in my twenties after leading a sedentary life, I never played any sports as a child. I understand what it means to be an adult without the strength,
the mobility and the mindset to learn something that seems completely out of reach, and my goal is to help you achieve as safely and efficiently as possible what I learnt through endless mistakes,
injuries and frustration.
At the end of the course you will have gained a good understanding of the roles of alignment and rebalance; you will have familiarised with the feeling of being inverted and with different entries to handstand, and you will have built the strength and endurance to keep up a safe
practice in the future.
The Sustainable Handstand Programme was designed for people of all ages and backgrounds who are just starting their handbalancing practice. It is composed of a total of 24 training sessions spread out
over the course of 12 weeks. The two weekly training sessions will give you enough time to recover while safely strengthening your body for the work ahead. Handbalancing stresses the body, and especially the wrists and shoulders, in a way it may not have experienced before.
Taking it slowly when starting and always making sure to warm-up before practice will save you from injuries that could stop you from training for months. If you don’t have time to warm-up, you don’t
have time to train either. The sessions don’t last more than an hour, going through the warm-up will prepare your body and your mind for an excellent practice.
Listen to your body.
This is not about breaking a sweat, it’s about developing a skill that requires you to be present, focused and fresh. If you are adding this programme to any other you are also following, make a point of practising your handstands on the days when you feel well recovered from any additional effort. Your lifestyle will have an impact on your body awareness, so remember that practising after
sleeping poorly or after having one glass too many may not be the best idea. I do encourage you, if your recovery is good and you have
the time, to practice some of the drills on your rest days too. Feel free to go through your wrist mobility and stretches before or after
engaging in other activities, and if you have a minute to work on your alignment, even if standing against a wall on your feet, make the most of it. You could even make a few minutes of handstand practice part of your warm-up before engaging in different activities..
In the beginning
You may not be able to perform a drill or hold a position for the suggested amount of time, you may also have to rest
longer before performing a set again. As I mentioned before this is a general programme for people who are at different stages in their
journey, people with different abilities and backgrounds. Don’t see this as a setback but a challenge. Play with the movement, explore,
fail many times. Failure will be your best friend in this process if you’re mindful of your mistakes. Take videos, watch what you’re doing. Share them with me, and I will be happy to comment and give advice. If a hold feels too easy, hold it for longer.
If it’s too hard, focus on your technique for however long you can stay there.
Record your numbers, write your impressions.
There is much more to handstand training than sets and reps, and this is the time to start acknowledging the importance of sensation. How does it feel in the body? How is what you feel different from what you do once you watch yourself in the videos? How much effort did a drill require? Where do you feel it? Let it all out on your training log. Progress is not always straightforward, and we all have bad days.
To complete this course you will need a floor, a wall, a set of p-bars or kettlebells of the same weight and height, something more or less hip-height, a high bar. You should be able to find this equipment in
all gyms, and you will be able to train in the comfort of your home on some days. We use the high bar to introduce movements that in fact can be performed on the floor at a higher level, the idea being that
once we have built enough strength and flexibility, we won’t need any equipment at all except for our own body. Handstands can be taken anywhere and take no space in your luggage.
I hope you will enjoy the programme and will feel empowered to continue the journey with better awareness and more tools in your box once it is over. Enjoy every day, feel every position, connect to yourself. Handstands take time, dedication, perseverance and the courage to fall. You will
fall. There is no way around falling; there are no shortcuts. As far as I’m concerned, nothing has ever given me quite the same satisfaction, and I am myself still falling and failing most days.
Feel free to tag me in your efforts on Instagram for feedback, you will find me as @pescamoka.