Jump to content
Search In
  • More options...
Find results that contain...
Find results in...
Sign in to follow this  
animalhands

shoulder extension in handstand

Recommended Posts

animalhands

I was in a yoga class and while trying handstands the teacher explained to me that I should be pressing my shoulders firmly into the socket in order to attain a more solid base. Now my understanding has been that pressing the shoulders away from the ears in extension is the preferred gymnastic method. What are the pros and cons of these different methods?

As always, THANKS!

AH

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Blairbob

Apparently they don't know what they are talking about.

Support the body with muscle, not just the structure (bones).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Coach Sommer
I was in a yoga class and while trying handstands the teacher explained to me that I should be pressing my shoulders firmly into the socket in order to attain a more solid base.

Interesting how this piece of misinformation continues to raise its head again and again :roll:.

In actuality this is the absolute worse technique that can be employed in terms of shoulder joint health. By actively attempting to retract the shoulder while under load, all of the muscle and connective tissues which normally protect the joint by absorbing impact are removed from the equation and you are now essentially working directly bone on bone. Imagine attempting to run down the sidewalk barefoot and only landing and rebounding each stride off of your heels and you will get a sense of the long term damage that a faithful adherence to the credo of pulling the shoulders "in" will wreak upon the shoulder girdle.

In addition, while operating in a full blown athletic environment it is quite literally impossible to perform any type of explosive movement (swinging, climbing, throwing, jumping, sprinting etc.) where the shoulder girdle is not free to fully extend as needed. Such an artificial restriction in ROM is only possible in a highly controlled, sub maximal, non-dynamic scenario.

Yours in Fitness,

Coach Sommer

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Jason Stein

Coach Sommer, Blair:

The handstands and arm-balance poses performed during a yoga practice, sequences of which are often held for 30 seconds to 1 minute each, are most definitely "highly controlled, sub-maximal [and] non-dynamic." That is essentially the point: in a yoga practice, there is ideally never an instance when the hand impacts the floor, as in a back handspring or a hopping handstand.

There is some transference between yoga asanas and gymnastics, though they both have radically different aims. Yoga asanas are, with few exceptions, sub-maximal eccentric static holds.

regards,

jason

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Blairbob

In another field of study of mine, when the body is torqued on it's structure ( bone ) is when it is very displeasant to either myself or the subject I am inducing this on. However, that is exactly the purpose...pain and lots of it generally followed by tearing the muscle or tendon or breaking/dislocating the joint.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Jason Stein

Blair,

I think I understand the confusion --- the idea introduced in the first post is that in a yoga practice it is ideal to stack the skeleton in line with gravity as efficiently as possible, and then consciously and intentionally depart from this line.

In yoga there is almost no dynamic, maximal strength expression, no recruitment of fast-twitch fibers, and very little carryover to power or muscular endurance.

regards,

jason

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
animalhands

I am extremely pleased with the responses that have been posted, thank you. I understand that the aim of yoga is very different than that of gymnastics and that the way yoga approaches some of the more difficult asana is very inconsistent from teacher to teacher and style to style. Coach's reply made the most sense to me because he mentioned how the extension of the shoulder in necessary in so many other activities and that the extension is necessary in maintaining joint health. Moreover, many people take on yoga as a practice in order to complement another sport or to add to an already existing conditioning routine. This is very different from the traditional practice of yoga as a primary, sometimes singular, practice. I am finding that this traditional outlook has become myopic. Too often are other methods of conditioning overlooked. This is where I am coming up against resistance when I bring in ideas and methods to a yoga class that were not found in a yoga book.

I am brand new to gymnastics as conditioning but so far it appears that the research into how the body reacts and benefits from gymnastic training is far more comprehensive than most other forms of movement, including my beloved yoga.

When my shoulders are extended I feel much less need to 'step' with my hands to maintain balance, so I'm gonna keep with the shoulders long.

Thanks a lot everyone

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Jason Stein

"Animal Hands,"

It's important to keep the contexts of both yoga and gymnastics in mind.

Yoga has nothing to do with "conditioning" "strength" or "flexibility." Any movement in those directions is a by-product of the asana practice, and not the aim, means, or intention.

I think we should be able to accept the notion that, for expressions of gymnastic power, shrugging the shoulders into the ears is a good thing. And that for an extended yoga hold, spiraling the shoulder into the socket is a good thing. They can both be good things, depending on the context.

regards,

jason

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Blairbob

Maybe, this explains why I never see a hollow handstand hold by yoginis or yogis. On another note, there is a lot of data and nomenclature by chiropractics on how many neck issues they see with people who do yoga ( many who are probably weekend warrior yoga types as well ).

Hmm, funny last I remember the whole physical point of yoga was conditioning and preparing the body to train the mind and spirit for loftier notions of consciousness. The body and mind train together, then the mind trains the spirit, then the spirit trains the body. Sort of a circle found a lot in many martial health arts.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Jason Stein

Blair,

You are right, the hollow position is not often held by yoga practitioners --- I tend to mostly see the Banana Handstand, with a lot of work done by the lumbar spine to compensate for poor alignment.

The point of yoga is yoga, or union. (Note: nothing here about flexibility, strength, conditioning.) It'd be more accurate to think of yoga asanas as specific techniques to allow this condition of union to arise --- they aren't means to an end, but ends in themselves.

It sounds like you're familiar with martial arts --- yoga is similar in that there are different schools and, at least in India, often regional differences. Some use asanas as therapeutic tools, some use them as preparation for seated practice, for some schools, notably Iyengar and Ashtanga vinyasa, the asanas are the practice.

To paraphrase what Coach Sommer said above, however, yoga asanas are most definitely not part of "a full blown athletic environment."

I would be interested in both yours and Coach Sommers' response to the notion that, to me, a minute or so into a free-standing handstand, it makes sense to relax the shoulders away from ears in order to conserve energy, because tensing the shoulders expends a lot of energy.

Now, is one's ability to tense shoulders near ears something that improves with time?

I'm going to have to do some experiments.

Thanks for your thoughts.

regards,

jason

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
animalhands

This is a great thread,

Jason, my original question was posted because in over the past few years I have seen more and more of my yoga students including yoga as a component to a conditioning regime. This has brought me to question asana standards as to how they can be more applicable outside of the yoga practice. Moreover, I notice of my students that decide to step out and try some new athletic endeavors using asana as a foundation for physical fitness.

After rereading my previous post I see that I could have come across as having a 'this or that' mentality. Though I do disagree with the statement that yoga has nothing to do with conditioning, strength or flexibilty, I don't think this is the forum for that topic. PM me if you like as this topic is of great interest to me.

As for classic yogi arch handstand, it seems that this has come to be the standard through the teachings of BKS Iyengar. In his book which is considered the standard text on asana, Light on Yoga, he describes the arched Handstand as the standard in competitive gymnastics. I am curious if this a chicken vs. egg dilemma and if the yoga handstand will follow in the steps of the gymnasts handstand becoming more aligned.

Thanks y'all

Casey aka ah

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Blairbob

the standard in competitive gymnastics about 50 years ago. arched handstand is allowed somewhat on rings and you'll be booed off the podium ( competitive arena ) for an excessively arched handstand vs the standard in most elements.

over time, 1 minute in handstand with shoulders extended should be something of relative ease, especially for hand balancers.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Jason Stein

Blair, AH ---

I should have been more qualitative in my description of the Banana Handstand. It is performed in yoga classes and it is incorrect or incomplete. This brings up my initial dislike of extended shoulders in handstands, which was also considered incompletely.

People tend to shrug their shoulders into their ears and at the same time bring their scapulae together. Not good for hollow position.

Blair notes that an arched handstand was a gymnastic standard 50 years ago, which is not coincidentally when Light on Yoga was published. The idea in yoga is that if one is arching the back, one is doing it intentionally and with control. One would begin a handstand in what is called stannoasana, from a more neutral position, or which looks like more of today's gymnastic handstand, and then one would extend into the bowed shape.

I don't disagree that Light on Yoga has been an important text in spreading yoga to the West, but it's important to remember several things: it has reached that status because it was for 40 years one of the ONLY books in English on yoga asanas. It's also only representative of the style of yoga that Mr. Iyengar teaches, not coincidentally called Iyengar yoga. And it in no way illustrates progressions or transitions into and out of the poses.

To characterize it as a definitive dictionary of yoga poses would be like saying that US Navy Gymnastics and Tumbling book from the 40s constitutes a definitive dictionary of gymnastics training.

As far as the asanas --- as I said, they'll make one stronger, flexible, healthy, vital, etc, etc. This is a byproduct of practice, however. Otherwise it's just stretching. You can PM me if you want to discuss further.

best,

jason

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Blairbob

An interesting note is that there used to be a handstand called yogi HS in the FIG code. It's not there any longer but it was a really arched handstand and could be done in 2 different ways. I played with both under the tutelage of the first MAG coach I worked for and trained under.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Jason Stein

Blair,

What is the FIG code?

Are there different gymnastic standards for men and women?

Yoga classes are predominantly taught and attended, quite disproportionately, by women. Nice hollow-body holds seem to be much more difficult for women than men.

regards,

jason

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
JoeS
the standard in competitive gymnastics about 50 years ago. arched handstand is allowed somewhat on rings and you'll be booed off the podium ( competitive arena ) for an excessively arched handstand vs the standard in most elements.

over time, 1 minute in handstand with shoulders extended should be something of relative ease, especially for hand balancers.

According to the York Handbalancing Course, which appears to be World War II vintage, there were 3 kinds of handstands: The "continental" handstand, which is the straight line standard used today, the banana handstand described in this thread, and an extreme banana handstand with the torso at a 45deg angle to the ground and the ankles straight above the head. :shock:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Blairbob

http://www.fig-gymnastics.com/ there are different codes for each gender of artistic gymnastics, as well as tumbling, trampoline, group, acro, rhythmic, etc.

I like using hollow holds for beginners and they need to know that shape for so much. However, I think it's very easy to hold with a flat back ( not arched ) and the ability to do it for 1m doesn't mean much.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
animalhands

Jason, I couldn't agree more about Light on Yoga being dated. I've noticed that the handstand description has changed quite a bit. What I see now, in print, is a more hollow handstand with the feet in dorsiflexion as opposed to plantarflexion. Yet I haven't found much information on why the shoulders are preferably seated. I don't teach handstand in my classes, obviously, because I see a lot of incomplete information among yoga students and teachers. Is the drawing of the scapula together the only piece you dislike of the extended shoulders position? Also, what are the benefits you've found of seated shoulders?

thanks guys

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Jason Stein

Blair,

Many, if not most people, at least adults off the street, have difficulty maintaining a hollow position while inverted. A proprioceptive sense of flaring the lats, squeezing the anus, lifting the muscles of the pelvic floor, and either tucking or tilting the pelvis can be tricky details to grasp when you're lying on your back. Upside down while balancing on your hands is very tricky.

Many women tend toward hypermobility of the lumbar spine. Consequently, tucking the pelvis, especially upside-down, tends to be difficult for them. Perhaps if I got them young and could train them earlier, it might be easier. But unless a woman has had gymnastic training while young, hollow position handstands are tricky. Actually, holding the top of a push-up in a hollow position tends to be tricky.

Men, on the other hand, tend to be fairly inflexible through the shoulder girdle, and also generally attempt to overhead press their way through difficulties. Which is fine if you're a strong Crossfitter — you can hold yourself up for a few seconds — but not so fine if your body is only at an 80-degree angle.

Jamming the shoulders into the ears also encourages scap adduction. It requires a sense of shoulder extension and scap abduction at the same time, which tends to be difficult. These actions also tend to eliminate the vital connection to the lats, obliques, and consequently the abs and the muscles of the pelvic floor.

I notice in the photos in BtGB that the athletes have extended shoulders and yet space between the ears and shoulders. The last photo that comes to mind is the photo from the Wall Running WOD. This is not a common phenomenon.

However, during longer duration holds, it's nice and efficient to suck the shoulders into the sockets, spiral the palms into the floor, and spread the load to the lats and the skeleton. Same as I do in front levers, back levers, planches (whichever variations), deadlifting, assisted one-arm chins, one-arm push-ups, etc, etc.

Yoga and gymnastics (and powerlifting and equilibrism and contortionism and parkour and breakdancing...) are very similar in the sense that it's almost impossible to learn either of them correctly from books. They're still separate enough fields that often times there's friction when they rub against each other. Which can be interesting.

I prefer to treat Light on Yoga as a very well-written manual, albeit a manual from the 50's, also albeit a manual I personally don't follow. I certainly wouldn't go to a doctor working from medical texts from the 50's.

regards,

jason

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Blairbob

For those in yoga, learn a hollow headstand before handstand. Most coaches do the same thing or in concurrence. We teach the headstand and it's alignment so it can carry over to the alignment of a handstand. Lots of yoga does tripod headstand of some sort.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
ASForum
Blair,

You are right, the hollow position is not often held by yoga practitioners --- I tend to mostly see the Banana Handstand, with a lot of work done by the lumbar spine to compensate for poor alignment.

The point of yoga is yoga, or union. (Note: nothing here about flexibility, strength, conditioning.) It'd be more accurate to think of yoga asanas as specific techniques to allow this condition of union to arise --- they aren't means to an end, but ends in themselves.

It sounds like you're familiar with martial arts --- yoga is similar in that there are different schools and, at least in India, often regional differences. Some use asanas as therapeutic tools, some use them as preparation for seated practice, for some schools, notably Iyengar and Ashtanga vinyasa, the asanas are the practice.

To paraphrase what Coach Sommer said above, however, yoga asanas are most definitely not part of "a full blown athletic environment."

I would be interested in both yours and Coach Sommers' response to the notion that, to me, a minute or so into a free-standing handstand, it makes sense to relax the shoulders away from ears in order to conserve energy, because tensing the shoulders expends a lot of energy.

Now, is one's ability to tense shoulders near ears something that improves with time?

I'm going to have to do some experiments.

Thanks for your thoughts.

regards,

jason

With no dis-respect to coach here. I'd like to say something...

Yoga is extremely great for what it does. It adds strength & flexibility for what a person may need to do all their lives.

What it does not do... Make you a Body Builder, Martial Artist, Fighter, .. or a Gymnast.

But, do notice that a lot of Yoga positions involved Static Holds & Semi-Dynamic movements of the body in 'disadvantaged' positions. Not bad for a 5000 year old exercise regimen.

If you want to find out where & how Yoga leads to Gymnastics.. Check out & google "Malkhmab". Its an ancient art of gymnastics like stuff, which unfortunately has been neglected by India in its aping the west and dropping the traditional.

I think if we got Coach S together with some old experts of this art.. We'd have quite an interesting knowledge combination.

Honestly, I love the stuff Coach has put together. It breaks walls around the whole.. have to light weights & do so many repetitions etc. school of thought.

Just my 2 cents.

PS: All major martial arts are said have their roots in India.. even Body building from some article I read. Again.. everything is debatable :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Blairbob

Thanks, C&B. I will look into this. Unfortunately, I couldn't trace back Kalari very far and heard this was one of the more older systems.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Jason Stein

My friend,

There is indeed much interesting crossover between yoga, gymnastics, traditional Indian gymnastics, even Indian dance and wrestling. The malkhamb that you mention is still very much alive and well in India --- the streets of Mumbai are filled with fakirs performing rope and pole tricks, as well as extreme yoga poses and contortionism. Though my impression was that most Indians considered it just that: extreme contortionism.

There's also quite a bit of overlap between Indian wrestling, kalari, and yoga asanas. For example, many Indian wrestlers warm up with very fast sun salutations, and there are a few yoga poses that are essentially neck bridges, which I imagine comes directly from the world of wrestling. [if you've ever seen the documentary "Choke," it shows Gracie warming up with a similar sun salutation movement.]

The point here is not to seek out the most "ancient" of these disciplines --- the details of most forms of hatha yoga, martial arts, wrestling and gymnastics in India can only be reliably dated to the 17th century --- but to see where the areas overlap --- and where they don't.

One such modern yoga synthesis of different disciplines would be Shandor Ramete's shadow yoga, which incorporates martial arts, dance and traditional yoga asanas. I'm not advocating the system, however, just pointing out that smart people with a lot of experience in broad disciplines are combining elements from each. Which is pretty much how ideas work in India --- everything gets combined into a giant melange of cross-pollination.

My favorite: potential soldiers for the Indian army had to be able to sit in lotus position.

regards,

jason

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Ido Portal

This discussion is all nice and all, but here are a couple of facts:

1. The one arm handbalance cannot be held in great control with shoulder into its socket. Just look around the web, you will see hundreds of professional handbalancers (most of them are practicing Yoga also, but not here...) but none of the high level ones will use this low positioning.

2. The shoulder into socket hurts the alignment of the ribs in, extended shoulder, no arch in the lower back, which is essential for achieving the handstand efficient line. If you are after 'dead-balance' this is essential. Again, hundreds of exemples as opposed to none.

I was actualy taught to be somewhere in the middle for long duration holds - to be able to lift shoulder even higher or take it a bit lower - an act that provides one more element to use for you balance, and does not produce too much uneeded tension. If you are after dynamic transitions through the handstand full extension is the smart move.

Also, when you will stand on one arm, it will become obvious - the higher shoulder position is just more convinient and controlled.

Pulling the shoulders into socket on pull - hang movements is a completely different issue -by the way.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Jason Stein

Ido,

We were discussing the regular two-arm handstand, and why practitioners of various disciplines display different alignments. I consider one-armed handstands a different breed altogether.

Though it probably would have helped to have first defined 'balance' or 'equilibrium,' as I think both gymnastics and yoga require their own similar but ultimately separate definitions.

regards,

jason

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in



Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×

Important Information

Please review our Privacy Policy at Privacy Policy before using the forums.