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 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 sixth issue of my 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 following this amazing human being a couple of years ago because I was intrigued by his ability to shoot an arrow while in a backbend-y handstand, since I had never seen this trick/skill before. Turns out Adrian actually is a Yogi turned Handbalancer and his Instagram feed not only makes your jaw drop due to his incredible One Arm skills but also his wonderfully tasteful surroundings and nature snaps that make you want to take a holiday asap. Let's find out what inspires Adrian.
1. Tell me something about yourself: Who are you and what do you do?
Who am I? I’m still figuring that part out. What do I do? Mainly Handbalance and Yoga. I try my best to keep my life as simple as possible so I can maintain my commitment to this movement discipline.
2. How much time do you spend upside down per day? Is there one thing you ALWAYS do when warming up?
Yes. I typically spend 2-4 hours a day training which includes my stretching and conditioning. I always stretch and open up splits before getting into my hand balance practice. I do what can be considered a lengthy warm-up so I am super prepared for more challenging/technical movements.
3. What is your favorite Handstand of all?
It’s hard to choose a favorite, but I’d say tumble split/hallowback single arm or four-point compass are some of the most pleasing lines when done properly, but of course they’re maddening if the lines are slightly off.
4. At what age did you start training? How did you get into handstands?
I got into handstands right when I was turning 30 which was about six years ago. I needed a new discipline and something to focus on, as I was moving out of the terrible unhealthy habits of my 20s. I needed to find some kind of balance in my life, and thought that pursuing it through a physical discipline was a good way to start.
"Always be stretching."
5. What would be your best advice for a very inflexible person to work on their flexibility?
There is a lot of time in between handstands. As often as possible I try to be in a wide leg forward fold, or a lunge, or splits. Always be stretching. You need to pass time in between handstands you may as well be productive with it.
6. Which are the 3 most important exercises - in general - you think everyone should do? Do you practice Yoga every day?
I always stretch. That’s like 80% of my training. The stretches I just mentioned, as well as shoulder stretches, back bends, and side bends are a part of my daily training. And yeah, I aim to train/practice everyday but always leave a day off in the week for recovery. It’s never planned, I just go and go until I need a full day off.
7. How does one learn to shoot a bow/arrow in a handstand (I dont know the correct term)? This looks mega advanced to me!
I don’t know the correct term either, haha. Honestly it was one of those things I sorta just picked up. I had already been making the archer shape for a few years and thought, maybe I could add a bow and arrow. So I did a little research and got a good bow and arrow for foot archery and worked to figure it out on my own. It actually isn’t very technical and only took a couple hours to get it right. It wasn’t terribly difficult compared to some shapes and movements that I have been working towards for years, but you do have to have a very steady handstand and strong backbend. It does look dramatic, and it’s a fun way to get upside down and maybe inspires others to try out handstanding.
"Breathe and relax."
8. What are the most common mistakes in training handstands and how to solve them?
Ahh, I’d say moving too fast before you are ready. We all want to grow fast so I understand the temptation but pulling back 10% will get you 20% further. Another common mistake is neglecting stretching. If you can get your bones into alignment with minimal to no resistance because you are flexible, then you don’t need additional strength to overpower the resistance. Then lastly is the mistake of correcting with the legs or counterbalancing with the legs. Instead, focus more on hips over shoulders and make corrections from the wrists and fingers, larger rebalance corrections will need to be made from the shoulders but mostly everything should be as still as possible. Breathe and relax.
9. Beginners always wonder on how to get started with training handstands when there is a lack of strength. How would a short training sequence for strength building look like?
In my hand balance classes and workshops we traditionally start with an understanding of hand placement and shoulder placement. Then general conditioning, which includes wrist push-ups and shoulder blade push-ups (scapular protraction and retraction). But mainly it’s about being upside down and getting the feel for being on your hands. You can go into down dog and then place yourself on a wall in down dog so your hips are over the shoulders and shoulders over the wrist and feet are on the wall, legs parallel with the ground. From here you can lift one leg up and get a good feeling for the balance. Try to train the handstand balance and entry into the handstand as two separate drills. First establish a cachet of (time under tension) on your hands, then add to it by focusing on your entry into a handstand. I actually made a tutorial for intro to handstands. And it should be out shortly.
10. How do you eat? Meaning, what style… vegan, veggie, paleo etc..
My diet is 100% plant based (vegan). I was raised that way, then went vegetarian through middle school and high school, then found my way back to being vegan when I quit drinking at 30 and decided to live a fully observed life. It just made the most sense to me, whether I was looking at it from an ethical view or health and medical view. And one of the many nice things about having a completely plant based diet is that there’s no need for cheat days. I eat whatever I want with a focus on fresh vegetables and protein. My protest is not against any individual and their choices for their diet. But it definitely is a protest against the meat and dairy industry. Those corporations are straight up fucking villains.
11. What was the last book you read?
Waking up with Sam Harris. He has a podcast by the same name and a meditation app as well. I love his philosophy and insight. I also love anything by Michael Pollan, Albert Camus and Christopher Hitchens.
12. What was the last thing (tool, toy, food… anything!) you bought that made your life easier?
I recently bought myself a camera and trying to learn a little bit as photographer has been a super exciting side hobby. Im working on developing my eye for composition, but also just understanding the basic triangle of exposure as well.
13. Where can I train with you? Any upcoming events?
So I have a studio in Richmond Virginia called The Yoga Dojo and I teach out of there most of the time, except for when I’m lucky enough to travel and teach workshops, which I absolutely love to do! I’m always looking for places to teach so anyone can reach out to me trough my social media or email to set something up.
Curious about Adrian? Find out more here: