My First Press Handstand!!! You Can Do It Too!!!


My master yoga teacher, Sherry Han, always says, “Yoga makes the impossible possible.”  Well, let me tell you, I always thought that it would be impossible for me to do a press handstand.  Im. Pos. Sib. Ble.  After 12 years of practicing yoga, I have FINALLY crossed that line and I did my first press handstand (to my disbelief as I was lifting my legs to the sky) two days ago.  It is an unbelievable feeling to actually prove yourself wrong.  I have made the impossible possible, and so can you!!!

So what is a press handstand?  Well, here’s a video to show you my very first successful press handstand (and the failed attempts leading up to it):

As you can see, a press handstand just means that you press your hands into the floor and lift your legs into a handstand without jumping or any momentum.

Ready to learn???

Part of my frustration failing at the press handstand was because I thought my shoulders were just not strong enough.  I didn’t realize that the key to doing a press handstand lies in the deep core level.  No amount of sit ups and crunches will help you with press handstands.  You have to learn HOW to access this deep abdominal muscle and strengthen it.

Here are some drills that helped me begin to connect with this deeper core sensation, and in my opinion, are essential for working up to press handstands:

Drill #1: Plank Pike Ups (Or Plank Tucks)

Begin in a plank position and place your toes on something that can slide on the floor, for example a towel on a wood floor.

Variation 1: Plank Tucks

On your exhale, press your hands into the floor, lean your shoulders over your fingertips, and slide your knees in towards your chest.  Inhale and slide the toes back out into a plank.  Work to 10 repetitions.

Variation 2: Plank Pike Ups

After you have mastered the plank tucks, then work on keeping the legs straight and sliding your toes towards your wrist, piking at the hips, then sliding back.  Work to 10 repetitions.


Drill #2: Leg Raise to Plow

Begin lying down on your back on your yoga mat.

Variation 1: Leg Raises

Keep your hands by your sides, palms facing down.  Bring the legs up to the sky and on the inhale lower your legs 2 inches off the floor without lifting your spine off the mat.  Exhale and bring the legs back up to the sky.  Work to 10 repetitions.

Variation 2: Leg Raise to Plow Arms Down

Keep your hands by your sides, palms facing down.  Start with a regular leg raise, lowering 2 inches off the floor on the inhale, and then lifting the legs to the sky on the exhale.  This time continue to reach the legs over your head keeping the legs straight, eventually bringing the hips over the shoulders and coming into plow pose.  On the next inhale, slowly lower the spine down onto the mat as controlled as possible until the legs are 2 inches off the floor again.   Repeat and work up to 10 repetitions.

Variation 3: Leg Raise to Plow Arms Up

If you have mastered the leg raise to plow 10x with your arms by your sides, then now you can move on to the next step: do the same movement except your arms are extended to the ceiling.  Now you cannot rely on your arms to lift your legs and hips off the floor to get to plow.  It requires that deep abdominal strength, as well as a conscious “rolling” of the hips in order to move into plow.  Try to complete the movement with absolutely no momentum and as slow as you can.  Try to work up to 10 repetitions.


Drill #3: Wall Press

Basically, this gives you the sensation of a press with the assistance of a wall behind you.  Begin in a wide straddle facing the wall.  Place your hands down on the floor and lean your shoulders and the back of your head completely onto the wall.  Imagine you are doing the leg raise to plow drill, and lean into the shoulders as you roll your hips up and back towards the wall, lifting the legs in a V up to the sky.  Work to 10 repetitions.

Variation 1: Feet can stand on blocks.  This gives you an advantage because your hips are already higher and it is easier to lift the legs up.

Variation 2: The further your hands are from the wall, the easier it is, so start as far as you can.  But find the distance where the back of your shoulders and head are resting on the wall behind you.

Variation 3: If need be, you can always add a little hop to help your feet initially lift off the floor.  Make sure to hop into a controlled wide straddle, keeping both legs straight and legs out wide.  However, it is more effective to practice smoothly lifting your feet even an inch off the floor, then jumping and getting the legs to the sky.  Try not to hop as much as possible, unless your purpose is to practice holding a handstand for as long as you can, not to practice pressing to a handstand.

Variation 4: If you have mastered 10 repetitions of the wide wall press, then the next place to go would be starting with your feet together and lifting the legs up into a handstand.  This is much harder than beginning in a wide straddle in my opinion.


Drill #4: Crow to Pike

OK, this next drill is a tough one, but it really allows you to feel your deep belly muscles working hard!

Variation 1: Master your crow and be able to hold it for at least 10 breaths.

Variation 2: Work on straightening the arms as much as possible into crane and holding for at least 10 breaths.

Variation 3: From crane, flex the feet and bring your big toe and second toe to your wrists.  Hover as high off the floor as you can.  Press your toes as strong as you can against your wrist and when you do so you can begin to straighten the legs and lift your hips up to the sky.  I’m still working on holding the pike position up to 10 seconds!


Drill #5: Using Blocks

If you have worked on drills #1-4 over and over and over and have mastered the 10 repetitions each, now you are ready to try your press handstand variation with yoga blocks.  Begin in a wide straddle, feet on two blocks and hands on the floor.  Press into your hands, lean into your shoulders as if the wall was behind you, lift your heels as high as you can, and engage those deep abdominal muscles to lift your feet off the blocks.  Even just lifting a millimeter off the blocks and floating for that split second is progress!  Keep trying and that millimeter will become a centimeter, and then an inch, and on and on!


What I love about yoga is that there is never an end to it.  We keep working, we keep trying, we keep growing, and once you master one thing, there is always somewhere else to go.  For example, I just did my first press handstand two days ago, but it is not consistent yet.  Now I am working on finding that consistency, and after I do, then I will be trying to do a press handstand with my feet together versus apart.  I am also working on “floating” down from the handstand, such as floating down into crow as I attempted in my first video above.  So much to learn, so much to grow.

Some people may find this discouraging or frustrating, but I think that’s what makes yoga exciting, humbling, and beautiful.  Our bodies are continually changing, strengthening, and opening with yoga, and through it, we see that yoga is a realistic reflection of our lives.  Yoga teaches us to face our challenges, work through them, and eventually overcome them.

I really hope these drills are helpful for you.  Please share your experiences and any other tips you have!  Happy pressing!  Follow me on Instagram @gracelingyu or Facebook @ThePowerWithGrace to see my daily practice!

“Yoga makes the impossible possible.”

~ Sherry Han

39 thoughts on “My First Press Handstand!!! You Can Do It Too!!!”

  1. This is one of the best all round videos I have seen for press to gives you a great lead up to the actual skill. Great job Grace and thank you!

  2. I’m working on kicking up and just holding a handstand at the moment but I’m striving to get to where you’re at. Thanks for the helpful exercise ideas! You’re an inspiration 🙂

  3. great post! I have just started practicing the handstand-press. If your blog is around 12 years from now, I will hopefully come back and report success 🙂

    1. Yes!!! Hope the drills help! Daily practice will really make a difference. 12 years is a great goal 🙂 But with dedication it will be half or a quarter of that time ❤️. Would love to hear your updates!

  4. This is sooo helpful. I was looking for the right baby steps to build strength to get there. I bet these will help with floating forward (from addho muhka to uttanasa) too. Going to start incorporating each of these steps into my daily practice. Thank you!

  5. Thanks so much for this! I practice yoga everyday for at least an hour and I practice handstand everyday. I have a nice stable handstand I can hold for a minute but the press handstand seems like a far off dream. I have been working my core and my upperarms a lot lately and can let my legs come down slow and stright but still nothing. I know yoga not just about mastering the poses, but how I would love to do it just once. Thanks for adding it to my practice.

  6. Thanks so much for the great exercise descriptives and videos….Such a helpful article for moving toward hand stand press! I really appreciate it!!

  7. Thank you so much for a wonderfully written and organized post! I’ve always admired a push handstand, and I’ve recently decided to make it a goal. Your explanations, videos, and encouragement are exactly what I need! Thank you again and congratulations on your progress, very impressive. Good luck reaching future goals!

  8. Hiya, fantastic post! I just wanted to ask how many of these exercises/drills you would do a day and how many reps would you do?

    Many thanks !

    1. Great question! Do a little bit everyday. Maybe one exercise and up to 10 reps! Less than 5 minutes. If you have time then do another one. Really flexible but the key is consistent practice to build muscle memory and strength!

  9. I am an artistic gymnast and I need this skill, I’ve the standing press handstand and everything but I just can’t get the sitting one 😦 I’ve a strong core and arms and I can do over 30 V ups correctly and keep going , same for push ups. I am going to be trying out your #1 exercise as I just tried it and think it’s the best, any other tips? 🙂

    1. We are in the same place then. I have not mastered the press from sitting… only the standing press. I believe it helps to practice with hands on blocks and holding L-sit, lolasana, and building that swing through strength… good luck to you!

  10. How many times do you have to do these drills to actually be able to do the press handstand? Do you have to do it for days, weeks, months, years?

    1. Hi! It’s a daily practice if you really want to get it… I would say even 5 minutes a day!!! Most people want the end result and aren’t patient enough to put in the work… the worst that can happen is your core gets stronger, hamstrings longer, and handstand more rock solid! The press comes in time… and it varies depending on your current handstand ability, hamstring flexibility, strength… so it could be a few months, could be years…

  11. Thanks for the drills. This is exactly what I’ve been looking for. Now that some time has passed, are there any other drills you would recommend adding to the practice?

    1. Hello Nicole,

      Thanks for checking out these drills… there are a ton of resources on Instagram if you look up the hashtag #handstandpress or #handstanddrills. It’s on my to-do list to one day redo this blog and get more active again =) Unfortunately, nothing new at the moment…

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