Tuesday Tips: Forearm stands

Ah, the headstand. This is an awesome move for learning how to engage your core and stabilize your body in an inverted position. Nailing a controlled forearm headstand and understanding the balance and core engagement is really important to a number of different tricks, including the handstand, ayesha, pencil, and the the iguana mount (if you don’t know what that is, take a look at the end of the video in this entry)… I think it’s a great way to quickly warm up too- I’ll do a bunch of these and be sweaty if I really work them. But a lot of people seem to have trouble with how to get up into one, and how to control the movement down.

If you haven’t already seen the video for the Shoulder mount Tuesday Tip, take a look. The yoga plow exercise at the beginning of the video is a great way to strengthen for the stand and to gain the ab control that you need to do the stand with control.

An easy way to strengthen for a lift is to work the negative, or the descent. If you can’t quite do a pull up yet, stand on a box and get your chin up above the pull up bar, and then work on lowering yourself down with your arms slowly. The same principle applies to the forearm stand: if you can’t get UP with control, work on lowering down and eventually you will be strong enough to do the positive. I cover two different methods to get your legs up into the forearm stand on the tutorial video.

When you are getting down in the position on the floor, be mindful of your set up! I like to lace my fingers together and place my hands slightly in front of the pole. My torso is pretty long and placing my hands around the base of the pole has never felt comfortable. Experiment with where you place your hands and see what feels comfortable for you. Eventually, you want to be able to work these away from the pole, freestanding in the middle of the room!

Your elbows should be shoulder’s width apart– you are trying to create a triangle with your head and your forearms and you want all sides of the triangle to be the same length to be as stable as possible. The most common mistake I see people make in setting up is placing their elbows way too far apart.

When you place your head down on the floor, think about keeping your neck neutral. I aim to place a spot just above the hairline down on the floor, but it’s different for everyone: if your throat feels like it’s getting choked off, try placing your head down a little closer to the back of your head. If your neck feels like it’s under a lot of pressure, you’re probably tucking your head under too much and need to aim for a spot closer to your forehead. But no matter what, you should be pushing down and into the ground with your arms– pushing your shoulders down, toward your ears, almost as though you are trying to lift your body up and off the ground. You should be sharing the weight equally through your head and your forearms, not balancing all your mass on top of your head!

One key to this move is the idea of hollow body that we’ve talked about before: in order to bring your legs down, you need to engage your abs and make sure that your back is NOT arched. Think about rounding your back, scooping your belly, and rotating your legs in their hip sockets. Your knees are gradually turning from facing the ground, to facing the pole as your legs descend, and your hips are tipping like a cup to allow this to happen. If you are able to control your plow, think about doing a vertical plow: you want to keep your back nailed to the pole, and engage the same lower abs.

The more flexible your hamstrings are, the closer you will be able to get your butt to the pole, and the more vertically balanced your torso will be before you start the lift– so it’s harder if you’re not as bendy, but definitely not impossible. Take a look at the video below to see all these concepts in motion!

If you have any tips on this trick to share, please feel free to let loose in the comments!

Tomorrow’s post: Compliments…