As you might have guessed from my photos and posts, I am totally obsessed with everything there is to learn and know about handstands. During my quest of the holy handstand grail: gathering as many repetitions, information and hours spent on my hands I have come across many wonderful practitioners and incredibly talented performers and teachers. This is the second issue of my new ALL ABOUT HANDSTANDS Interview series, which I have started to share the many beautiful souls out there who dedicate their time on one or two hands instead of their feet.
I have started to train with this amazing human being called Yuval about 4-5 years ago when he first came to teach in Berlin. I have never spoken to someone who can enter and stay in a One Arm Handstand before, and was fascinated by the sheer ease he radiates even in the most complex positions. Since then, I have traveled to Cologne and Paris for his workshops because he is one of the few who is just down to earth, lovable and caring. There is no need to be scared of judgment in his workshops, of being forced or punished for not being able to perform the way you would want to. Let's find out what it takes to get this skilled.
1. Tell me about yourself: Who are you, what did you do in the past and what are you passionate about?
My name is Yuval and I am a professional handstand teacher. Yet, I see myself first and foremost as a practitioner of the craft of handstand and headstand (Equilibre). For the past 5 years I have been sharing my knowledge and experience in workshops which I conduct with hundreds of practitioners around the world. I started Gymnastics when I was 8 years old and was completely obsessed by this fascinating and challenging sport. Until I retired at age 26, I can say that my identity was dominated by the sport. I competed internationally for Israel and finished my career competing for the University of Illinois in the US collegiate gymnastics league. When I realized that my dream to participate in the Olympics would not materialize, I decided to end my career as a gymnast and proceed into the next chapter of my life…
For a few years I played with the idea of getting a “real job”… And after a few not so successful experiences in the hi tech industry (what was I thinking?), a crisis approaching my 30’s, and a long trip to India, I returned to Israel and made a decision to search for a path that would reflect my experience as a gymnast and also to do something physical. At some point I started teaching acrobatics to non-athletes, (dancers, artists, and circus artists). Handstand, a fundamental acrobatic skill, was something I found myself teaching on a regular basis. This new/old skill sparked my interest and I found myself experimenting with it. At this point two things happened: First I reached out to Claude Victoria who became my first handstand teacher. His guidance provided me with the foundation and approach to how I practice and teach handstand today. The second thing that happened was that I learned about Cirque Du Soleil, and realized that I have the profile that may fit… To make a long story short, I started preparing for auditions and in 2005 I “ran away to the circus” and spent most of my 30’s performing as a general acrobat in a huge circus spectacle called Le Reve in Las Vegas. During those 8 exciting years of performance, I kept exploring my skill as a hand balancer. In retrospect, I consider those 8 years in the show as my second career, which prepared me for my current “third career” as a handstand practitioner and teacher. I’m also a dad and a husband, but that is a different story…
2. Your IG name is @yuval_on_hands How much time do you spend upside down per day? Is there one thing you ALWAYS do when warming up?
I spend between 3-5 hours on average practicing handstand related work every day, which includes, mobility work, strength, movement, and, of course, lots of handstands. I believe I spend about 30-60 minutes upside down per session.
When warming up, I usually start with my spine (moving it in different ways), always make sure that my wrists are ready to go before I go on my hands. I would say the first few minute long handstand sets are also part of my warmup.
3. What is the craziest One Arm Handstand variation you can do and what is your favorite Handstand of all?
After many years of exploring the one arm handstand, and also headstand in recent years, it is more the quality and stability I’m after rather than getting that next big trick. There are a few fundamental positions (full, straddle and the tuck) that once mastered open the door to almost any handstand posit