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Scissor Kicking Up Into Handstand

A series of mini-exercises for scissor kicking into handstand with awareness

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The starting point for scissor kicking up into handstand is downward dog.

In downward dog focus on keeping your weight even on both hands.

Use your shoulders to push your ribcage back away from your hands.

Shift Weight

To practice kicking up into handstand, shift your weight to your right foot (but still keep your weight even on both hands.) Relax your left leg and allow the knee to bend. Then extend your left leg, straighten the knee and reach your leg back and up. Do this slowly and smoothly and focus on feeling your knee straighten and your leg swing back and up. You can also focus on feeling your hip. Feel as if you are kicking from your hip or that you are reaching your leg back, away from you hip. Then relax your leg then switch legs and do it again.

Rest for a few breaths.

Engage your Abs

For the next exercise, practice engaging your abdominals as you kick your leg back. Actually, engage your abs first, and then kick your leg back. To engage your abs, draw your pubic bone a little forwards, towards your sternum. Try to keep your abs engaged until the end of the kick. Then relax.

You may find that with your abs engaged, if you kick with a little bit more force your leg causes your pelvis and thus your other leg to lift a little. Imagine that as you kick back the force of your leg is transmitted to your pelvis causing your pelvis to lift up.

Use Both Legs

For the next exercise, bend your standing leg knee. If you weight is on your right leg, bend your right knee. Engage your abs and kick. As you kick, straighten your right knee. You may find it easier to focus on straightening both knees at the same time.

See if you can time the straigthening of both knees and the kick of your leg so that you use both legs to lift your pelvis.

Because you are in down dog, you won't actually be kicking up into handstand, but you'll get used to kicking, which is the point.

Using the Wall

For the next stage of kicking up into handstand, use a wall.

Make sure that the wall is free of pictures, scrolls, nails ect. Also make sure that area to either side of the wall and is free of obsacles that might get in the way should you fall.

The baby can sleep somewhere else.

Do downward dog in front of the wall with your finger tips about six inches to a foot away from the wall. Position your shoulders over your wrists with your elbows bent. Use your shoulders to push your hands into the floor and at the same time to push your ribcage up, away fromt the floor. Lift your hips high and shift your weight to one leg.

Shoulders Over Your Wrists

Use the same position as in downward dog except now your shoulders are over your wrists.

You may have to move your feet (or your standing foot) closer to your hands.

As you kick up move your shoulders slightly past your wrists (towards the wall). Then move them back over your wrists as you your leg(s) pass horizontal.)

To work at kicking up into handstand, focus on your free leg first. As when you first started, work at smoothly extending your leg and swinging it upwards with the knee straight. And then relax. Then add a little kick to send your pelvis upwads. Then bend your other knee and use both legs to kick up. Remember to engage your abs just prior to kicking.

If at all possible, work at gradually kicking higher.

Use Your Legs to Get Down

Once you get up, you gotta get down.

If you find that yourself actually kicking up into a handstand and end up with your feet against the wall, remember to keep your shoulders over your wrists.

Use your feet to kick you away from the wall so that you come back down again.

And remember to say "Oh yeah!"

Focus on Feeling Your Pelvis

As you get used to kicking up into handstand, as you get more experience, you can begin to focus on feeling your body. As mentioned, focus on keeping your shoulders over your wrists. But now also focus on feeling your pelvis. As you kick up focous on pulling your pelvis forwards and up so that it too ends up over your shoulders and wrists.

Feel Your Legs while Kicking Up

You can also focus on feeling your free leg (the one that kicks back.) As you kick up, focus on feeling your free leg swing back and up. Even as it causes your pelvis to lift focus on feeling your free leg moving towards the wall (carrying the pelvis with it.) Keep the knee straight as you do so. Feel as if you are trying to place the buttock, back of the knee and heel on the wall behind you.

As for the supporting leg, as you straighten it, let it stay at ninety degrees to the body. As you straighten it use the push from straightening the knee to help push the pelvis forwards and up. By keeping is striaght and at ninety degrees, imagine that you are "following through". Then, once your other leg is vertical, bring this leg up to vertical also.

Focus on Elegance

To work at kicking up into handstand elegantly, focus on using the least amount of energy possible. As you kick see what's the least amount of force you need to get your pelvis up over your hands. You may kick and not get vertical. That's fine. Then you'll kick to hard so that a leg or your pelvis crashes into the wall. That's fine too if you learn from it. Find the amount of force that causes your pelvis and legs to end up balanced on top of your ribcage. It's nice to do and it's nice to watch.

And do you know what, because you are focused on feeling your body and controlling it in order to do this, it's also yoga.

Published: 2011 10 11
Clearly defined poses, exercises and stretches for improving stability, body awareness and flexibility.
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