Handstand Work / Play - Part 1

Yup, another handstand post...a 2 parter no less.  A few weeks ago, I took some video from what turned out to be a great session where I found some metaphorical balance as much as literal balance. My last post on Handstand Love was born out of this particular session and the realization that love is equal parts play and work, you get out what you put in.  When I started out with handstands I was content with just messing around, that is until I saw massive improvements when I added a little dedication. So yeah, I’m pretty into handstands now…you might’ve picked up on that. It's just one of the expressions that I use to experience myself in a different way, and these are simply some musing from my practice.

I consciously divided the session into two parts: work and play.  Both elements have to coexist in my world - a  period of structure and a period of improvisation.

When you’re a kid the world revolves around play, everything else is just an inconvenience.  As an adult everything revolves around work; work even infiltrates our valuable relaxation time.  I have this basic assumption that our hobbies and our physical practices should stay focused on keeping us in a balance between work and play.  We often times miss out on the full benefits of any practice by choosing one extreme over the other.  Too much random play and we might never advance our skills to a higher level. Conversely, an obsession with the work can easily turn our hobbies into chores or obligations. The expression of work and play are two sides of the same coin when it comes to movement exploration.

The work is all about continuing to widen and solidify the foundation of my handstand training.  Reinforcing the basics is how progress happens and a part of how playfulness expands.

But you’ve got to put your time in, there’s no way around it.  When I made the decision to step up my handstand game I started looking around at new ways to test my inverted skills. Some of the work elements I’ve been focusing on include:

Straightening the line. Changing head position. Holding for time. Locomotion. Leg movement. Changing shapes. Weight shifting. Reducing base of support.

And of these options there are countless variations. You'll only ever be limited by your own creativity, however all of these elements take time and dedication. You must be focused and put in focused work. The challenge is to take one piece at a time and control your ADHD for just a little bit here, the time to play will come.

My advice to those wanting to get deeper into their practice: pick a specific element you want to develop, determine a number of sets you want to achieve and perform them as well as possible. Progress will come from this consistency.

Of course, finding the proper progression for your ability level is important and is where research and/or a skilled coach comes in.  But the main message is to strive for better than you are now with every attempt.  Every element has it’s own learning curve and challenges but improvement is easy to see and feel as long as you take your time and stay present with the work.  This is all takes a lot of resolve, a lot of mental energy all of which needs to be balanced with some lightness. Next post I'll get into how I keep my sanity through play. Until then, enjoy your work!

-Kellen