From the archives: Elbow Grip Ayesha
Nemesis Trick: Ayesha- Elbow grip
Also known as: Aysha, Elbow hold handstand
This trick is a toughie. I’m assuming, before we begin, that you have a strong caterpillar, and can do it one-handed– because in order to hold an ayesha, you are essentially resting your weight on just the bottom hand! I would also recommend that you be able to hold a headstand away from the pole, or be able to get into a headstand without kicking so that you know your core is strong and you know how to stabilize and balance yourself.
So, you’ve got yourself upside down on the pole. You caterpillared up, and… now what?
There are three really important elements in this trick, and if you have all three then the rest of the trick comes pretty easily. Invariably, when I see people unable to do this, they are doing one of these three things wrong.
Hollow Body. Body positioning and engagement is absolutely critical for this move. We’ve talked about hollow body before in the context of the Tuesday Tips: Shoulder mount entry. The same hollow body (slightly rounded back, abs engaged) is what you need for this move too. If you arch your back, your abs are not working and your hips can wobble all over the place. Also, if you arch your back, it makes it much harder to….
Maintain tension! The security and stability of this move depends on your upper body being as far away from the pole as possible, and your elbow being hooked as close to your knees as possible (assuming that you are starting from a caterpillar): generally, the higher the hook, the more stability you will have. If you aren’t leaning away from the pole with your torso, then there is no tension in the top (elbow hooked) arm, and you are basically doing a one-handed handstand with the bottom arm. That elbow hold isn’t for grip to keep you up, it is to keep your body from falling away from the pole– so if you collapse into the pole, that elbow grip becomes useless. Think about it this way: Have you ever seen a mountain climber descend (rappel) down a mountain? They are secured with a line above, and walk down the mountain with their back facing the ground. Take a look:
See how the line is taut, and all the climber’s weight is on it? You can also see how the climber is braced against the face of the mountain, pushing out with strong legs to maintain distance so that they can walk down. Now think of the picture as an elbow grip ayesha: the cliff is the pole. The rope is your elbow grip allowing you to lean away from the pole. The legs of the climber represents your torso and lower arm transferring weight into the cliff.
Elbow grip. When you are wrapping your arm, make a fist and flex your forearm and bicep as you set the pole in your elbow pit. Pull away from the pole as much as you can (think about leaning out and pulling your shoulder blade into the middle of your back) and start taking weight in that elbow right away, even before your legs come off. Flexing will help it to hurt less (because the tissue is hard and not soft and squishy).
So, here’s an example of what NOT to do (yes, I took this picture standing right side up and just made it upside down):
See how the back is arched, and the chest is close to the pole? That means that once the legs are off, your body will fall into the pole– that elbow isn’t doing a dang thing to stabilize when you collapse inwards! And see how the shoulder of the supporting arm is pulled back because the chest is arched? The weight of the body is falling right into the supporting shoulder and straining the shoulder, instead of transferring smoothly through the back, into the arm and down the pole. And since the core isn’t as tightly engaged as it could be, when those legs come off they’re gonna start a’wobblin all over the place!
Once you have the grip and body positioning down, it’s all about maintaining balance and getting comfortable with taking your feet off the pole. Start slow! I would recommend that you get very comfortable doing your caterpillar climb with an elbow grip to really get used to the elbow placement and engagement and get more confident. Then, when you’re ready, start to work on your ayesha. As you take your legs off, keep the engagement through your core and don’t let your back arch. If you need to adjust your balance and push your hips back to keep them stacked over your body as you open your legs into straddle, let the entire angle of your torso lean further out, don’t just stick your butt out! It may help you to look up the pole to keep your balance. As you become more advanced with this trick, you can turn your chest so that you aren’t facing the pole, but set slightly sideways to it (as in the example picture at the top of this post).
To see a little video that illustrates the basic concepts, take a look below! As usual, if you’re reading this via email subscriptions, you need to check out the blog online to see the embedded video = )
I hope that these tips helped some of you out there. If you have any tips to add, feel free to post in the comments! And if you have a request for the next Thursday tips, feel free to let me know!
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Tomorrow’s post: Memorial day!…