Why Is It So Hard To Do A Press Handstand With Straight Legs?


March 1, 2022     hamstring | handstand | technique | Your Questions

Transcript of: Why is it so hard to do a press handstand with straight legs?

Hey everybody! Welcome to this month’s question of the month. David Keil here, ready to answer the yoga and anatomy-related questions for you. You can submit your own question, of course. Go to yoganatomy.com/myquestion and we’ll answer it on video just like I’m doing right now. This month’s question comes from Pradeep and it’s about why it’s often so challenging to do a press handstand with straight legs.

The Question:

In press handstand why is it [so] difficult to go up with straight legs, but I can go with bent legs or wide legs? I have failed to understand it. Please let me know what it is and how to work for it. Thank you.

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The Answer:

Alright, Pradeep, here’s the big reveal on what is most likely preventing you from going up into press handstand with straight legs. And of course, this is me answering that question without having seen you do it. I don’t know your body type. I don’t know anything about you. So, I’m kind of guessing and generalizing.

The most common reason preventing people from going into a press handstand with straight legs is tight hamstrings. What happens is, when you go to press up into a handstand as you’re describing, you press down through your hands. That downward force is going to create an opposite effect, the lift up part. Right? I’m sure you’re familiar with that. The biggest piece is related to your center of gravity and how that moves relative to where your hands and shoulders are.

So, how the hamstrings tie into this is, your pelvis has to rotate. That happens in order to kind of put the curve back in your spine in the natural way. Then your pelvis is more aligned relative to your hands and shoulders and above your torso. I’m guessing you’re probably on your tiptoes. You know, you’re leaning forward and all of that stuff. And, when you go to do that last little bit, when the hamstrings are tight, it makes it harder for the pelvis to do that rotation. And that can challenge your ability to go into a press handstand with straight legs.

Compare that to, as you said, when you bend your legs or you go up with wide legs. What changes? The tension in your hamstrings. When you bend your knees, tension in the hamstrings is released, so pelvic movement is easier. When you take your legs out wide, like if you were going to go into a press handstand from a prasarita padottanasana, well then, your hamstrings are out of the way. They’re not in a direct line to restrict that pelvic rotation. So, as the feet go apart, the legs go wide, etc., the pelvis more easily tilts. That allows you, when you press, to do that first movement that you need to do in the pelvic region, which is rotate, more easily.

So, I hope that answers your question about how to get into a press handstand with straight legs and gives you something to think about. Once again, anybody else, if you’ve got a question, go to yoganatomy.com/myquestion.

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