Different groups of people practice hand balancing for different reasons.
Yoga– Within the multitude of yoga asanas there are quite a few hand balancing poses. In yoga these are mostly known as inversions, as that is exactly what they are doing, inverting the body. Many of the poses are the same like the headstand, handstand and crow stand (aka frogstand) although they often come in different names. Others use various components of yoga like the lotus position in a handstand which isn’t seen outside of yoga too often.
When doing hand balancing in yoga, as in all yoga the goal, is to hold the pose, usually for longer periods of time. (I know this is a simplification.) To balance and go inside, as yoga is more than a physical practice.
Break Dancing – Breakdancing incorporates a number of hand balancing movements. Again these come in all different names. In break dancing moves are rarely held for a long time instead movements are strung together and made to flow.
Often in these balances break dancers will contort their body in order to hold the balance. This gives their balances a different look then the other disciplines. Make no doubt about it, great break dancers have great skill and strength.
Circus Performers – The circus has a wide range of skills and many of the incorporate hand balancing at one time or another. Contortionists, acrobats, even jugglers go into various hand balances. Then of course, there are the equilibrists, the best of the best. The hand balancing they do is the best in the world and awe inspiring to watch.
In order to get to this level you will need professional coaching, and many hours over years of practice.
Bodyweight Trainees – This is how I came to hand balancing. Working out in various ways I came to use my own bodyweight as my primary means of resistance. This led to doing handstands and eventually handstand pushups against the wall. One day I thought it would be fun to do it all without the wall and that led to my first attempts at doing a freestanding handstand. Hand balancing goes well with any variety of strength training.
Gymnasts – Probably the most well known and even biggest group of hand balancers. Their balances are done with a perfectly straight body to score good with the judges (and many think if you do it any other way you are doing it wrong and/or going to hurt yourself).
In a lot of gymnastics the skills move into and out of the handstand but specific hand balancing skills aren’t practiced all that often. In order to do a one arm handstand a gymnast will have to work outside of the normal gymnastic skills. But you can’t deny the best gymnasts are some of the strongest and most skilled people out there.
Everyday People – Then there is just your average person who wants to do a handstand. Maybe these other categories inspired them to want to do so. Maybe the idea came from somewhere else. You don’t have to fit into one of these groups to get good although just working on the basic movements is often enough for many people. Being able to hold a handstand with ease is the end goal. But some choose to keep pursuing what they can do in hand balancing.
No one group of people is better than any other. They can all learn from one another. They can all pursue what they want in their own way. Here at Lost Art Of Hand Balancing I hope to offer something to everyone regardless of their goals.
For your average person looking to get started the Secrets of the Handstand DVD would be the best place to start.
Someone looking to expand their repertoire would want to check out The True Art and Science of Hand Balancing or the Hand Balancing Mastery Course to discover tons of new and advanced skills.
An expert or professional may have skills beyond these materials but maybe they could use a pair of hand balancing stands.
And this doesn’t even begin to cover the acrobatic arts outside of handbalancing that are closely related.
If you’ve read this far why don’t you comment below and tell me what brought you to hand balancing in the first place?
Good Luck and Good Hand Balancing,
It was actually a bit of both weight training and just doing something fun. One of our suit performers in my show does Parkour and that’s how I started!
I’ve been able to walk on my hands since I was a kid. I started training Capoeira two years ago and now I want to be able to hold a handstand in place with walking.
Your information below is not accurate.
Their are six sports/disciplines within Gymnastic in America. Three of them use hand balancing. One; Acrobatic Gymnastics, uses it VERY VERY heavily. The other two are Men’s and Woman’s Artistic Gymnastics. You still get one arms from Girls on Beam at the Elite and Jr. Elite level and hand balancing as you see it is extremely good practice for developing handstands on Rings for Men’s artistic. Particularly if the men move from static support apparatus to one with some movement to simulate Rings.
In other parts of the world hand balancing is becoming part of another gymnastic sport-discipline once called Sport Aerobics, now often termed as Aerobic Gymnastics. Though their hand balance skills are simple Crocks… I predict that this will grow much much larger. This sport is huge in many european countries.
@George: I stand corrected George. I’m not too familiar with those other disciplines but I’ll start looking into them more now.
Looking to improve shoulder health and use bodyweight training and increased proprioception within the upper body to do so.
I watched my son walk on his hands and it was just a personal goal that i wanted to achieve and prove that at my age i can still do anything if i just keep trying and never give up.
I started as a gymnast (artistic), then I started to improve my handstands for bodyweight training (after quitting gymnastics), then I started parkour, and during training sessions I played a lot with friends doing hand balancing challenges, then I started traveling, needed to find a job but didn’t want to write a resume, so I started busking on the street, and then I got hired by a circus, and I train a lot my hand balancing (still with the goal of using it to become stronger). So I passed by 3 different categories.
I’m an AcroYoga teacher + have a mixture of yoga, circus + acrobatic interest.
Being able to handbalance has meant that breakers, capoeiristas and other appreciators of the physical often welcome me warmly 🙂
and I love the fact that when I practice down the park, it often inspires others to give it a go too 🙂
AcroYoga.org are a global network of teachers, which might make personal tuition accessible to all!
What about Freerunners? Or Traceurs (Parkour practitioners)? That’s how I got into it, but I guess that’s sorta like gymnastics. One of my main goals in hand balancing is to do a kong to handstand pushup on a railing 🙂 Check out Tim Shieff’s youtube videos if you have no clue what I’m talking about. Or just youtube Tim ‘Livewire’ Shieff, He’s bloody amazing
Yoga brought me to handbalancing. I have always wanted to do gymnastics so some friends who were breakdancers got me into trying handstands and the like, but I started in Yoga.
Thanks – your help is always invaluable.
OK Logan here’s your answer.
I don’t know of you have a copy of Harold Zinkin”s Remembering Muscle Beach, but if you don’t get one. It will be your biggest endorsement.
On Memorial Day, May 29, 2000 I helped the staff at Muscle Beach put on the Venice Classic Physique Contest.
I had just bought my copy of Remembering Muscle Beach and I knew a lot of the old timers featured in the book would be there.
I got to meet them all, get their autograph’s listen to their stories and had the best day of my life.
Time past and due to medical reasons had to put handbalncing and all the other nifty stuff aside.
I tallked to you not too long ago and told you I am coming on board.
I am 62 years old and after meeting guys like Jack LaLane and that bunch something inside has convinced me there are no more excuses.
I am going to be functionally fit and able to enjoy my body with doing handstands, bridgesl, etc for the shear joy of it.
I hope to impres you one day, not because of vanity, but to show you how you helped change my life.
Your friend and a great admirer,
Freddie Wayne Mitchell
I’m another person that was brought to handbalancing from yoga (Ashtanga). In the Primary series, there is the connecting vinyasa that you can actually do a handstand between each posture if you wanted to. Also are handstands from v-sit postures and even from the bridge (like a walkover in gymnastics).
Here is John Scott from New Zealand demonstrating a unique handbalance in the beginning.
Handstand is one of the more intimidating poses, but once you do it, it feels awesome. I found Leeann Carey has a free yoga video with great pointers for Handstand. I thought your readers might want to check it out: https://planetyoga.com/yoga-blogs/index.php/free-yoga-video-adho-mukha-vrksasana-downward-facing-tree-pose-handstand/