Yoga workshop - from handshakes to handstand in three days
What’s On takes on the Urban Yoga Dubai handstand workshop. Learn to do a handstand at a yoga studio in Dubai. Find out about other yoga classes in Dubai.
I have a confession to make: when I signed up for the three-day Learn to Handstand workshop at Urban Yoga, all I wanted was to learn a cool new party trick, and then flood Instagram with photos of myself showing off. By the end of the three-week (one two-hour class per week) course, two things became very clear – handstands are a lot harder than they look, and have a lot more benefits than making your social media profile more impressive.
The handstand workshops at Urban Yoga are led by Sean and Natasha of The Movement Guide – facebook.com/themovemementguide – former international athletes and ‘circus gypsies’ who, when I met them, had just returned from studying with monks in China.
There were around 20 students in the class, some of them yogis and regulars at the studio, others gym bunnies – and me, a runner with zero flexibility and a dream.
Class began with a series of stretches and a rather physical warm up, which included an exercise called ‘A-frame walks’ – a move that makes burpees seem pleasant. Then we started off with ‘L holds’, balancing on our hands with our legs at a right angle to our body, our feet supported by the studio windowsills. Sean and Natasha walked around the room, offering guidance and evaluating who needed to use the pose to build strength and who was ready to try handstanding with the support of the wall.
Day 1 was really about getting to know the process and learning to listen to our bodies. It was physically demanding, but Sean and Natasha created a warm, relaxed atmosphere with a lot of chatter and laughter.
At the end of day one, we were given homework (examples of which can be seen below) – exercises to practice almost everyday to help us work on our conditioning and technique, and links to Youtube videos as guidance.
Clearly I didn’t practice enough, though in my defence, I live alone, and was fearful of having no-one to help me if I fall on my face while trying to go upside down. But the great thing about the workshop was how accommodating it was to beginners. Sean and Natasha were able to come up with easier modifications for even a complete novice like me.
The second day of workshops had a similar schedule to the first but with a longer warm-up, and more progression. By the end of it, plenty of students were kicking up into a handstand against the wall and even attempting the move in the middle of the room without support. There was a lot of pairing up for partner work too, as we learned how to spot each other.
On the final day, and with another week of homework behind us, serious progress was being made in class – even I, (very briefly), managed to kick up into a handstand against the wall under Natasha’s careful guidance.
Working towards a handstand builds serious upper body and core strength – especially if, like me, the closest thing you get to strength training is carrying your groceries to your car – and after the workshop I could definitely feel the difference. In fact, by the end of the three days, I’d picked up a lot of tips, for handstands and fitness in general.
Find a good teacher. The best way to stay safe when starting anything new is to get someone experienced to show you the basics. Then you can continue by yourself at home.
Leave your ego at the door. When learning something new, you can’t be afraid to fall down or look like a beginner. As Sean said, “If you’re always worried about making mistakes, you’ll never make any progress.”
You get out what you put in. Just like there’s no crying in baseball, there’s no faking it in hand balances – you have to put in the work in order to make progress. There’s no secret formula – you just need the right tools and a commitment to practice, practice and practice some more.
Fancy going upside down? The next Urban Yoga handstand workshop will take place on November 21, 28 and December 5. Workshops cost Dhs500.
Urban Yoga, Floor 37, Zone A, Aspect Tower (part of Executive Towers), Business Bay, Dubai. Tel: (04) 3697882 Metro: Business Bay urbanyoga.ae
HERE’S YOUR HOMEWORK