Going upside down will give you an entirely new perspective on things… literally!
Considering how most of our lives are spent with our head up and feet down, reversing this arrangement can feel like a refreshing change of pace. Plus, going upside down has lots of benefits.
Why do inversions? Here are few great reasons to add them to your routine:
- They can help build upper body strength, core strength, and balance.
- They can help improve circulation to your brain and stop lymphatic fluid from pooling in your legs.
- They stimulate the endocrine and nervous systems.
- They boost your energy.
- They detoxify your body.
- They’re also great to help get you out of your comfort zone and build your confidence!
- Some people say inversions also help them with back pain, although the result with long-term pain hasn’t been proven yet in studies.
And don’t worry if being upside down seems a little scary… Some inversions can be frightening, especially at first. I know for myself, the concept of going upside down was so scary that I didn’t even want to attempt it…for years. It takes a lot of strength—and trust in that strength—to stand on your own two hands or forearms. But there are many ways to practice, depending on your needs and comfort level. And with the right instruction, there’s a good chance you’ll find yourself looking forward to going upside down and feeling more self-assured once you get there.
(*Note: Going “upside down” doesn’t just mean standing on your hands! Some of the
Try a few of the following inversions, or ask your teacher about them before/after your next class.
(If you have a neck injury, epilepsy, eye problems, a heart condition, or high blood pressure, talk to your doctor before attempting any inversions.)
Downward-Facing Dog Pose
This is an all-over stretch that opens the back of your legs, lengthens your spine, and can even relieve lower-back pain. Down Dog can be challenging to hold for long stretches of time at first, but when you practice it regularly, it will quickly begin to feel like a resting pose, even as it helps you build the arm and shoulder strength you need to move on to more challenging inversions.
This is a wonderful shoulder opener that helps you get used to the feeling of bearing weight in your forearms. Because of this, it’s a great precursor to Forearm Balance and Supported Headstand. But before you move on to try either of those poses, make sure you’re able to hold Dolphin Pose for at least 1 minute.
Not only is this a great pose for building upper-body strength, but it also gives you a taste of what it feels like to stack your shoulders above your elbows, your hips over your shoulders, and your feet over your hips. Once you understand this stacking of the joints, you’ll find it easier to straighten your arms and come into Handstand.
*Note: You’ll notice that I have a bit of a back-bend going on in this pose. Ideally, I would have my hips and feet stacked straight, similar to the Supported Headstand (below), unless I was going for a back-bend variation.
While this is often the most fear-inducing inversion for practitioners, it’s actually an advanced inversion with a low chance of injury. After all, it doesn’t place as much stress on your shoulders as Forearm Balance, and it’s one of the easiest inversions to fall out of and catch yourself without causing serious damage to your head, neck, or shoulders.
Note: You’ll notice that I have my feet separated in this pose. This is to keep me balanced and avoid toppling over. When I’m close to a wall (my comfort zone) I will bring both feet straight up. However, when I’m not near a wall, I tend to keep my feet separated to always be able to come back down easily if I feel I’m about to tip. *Keeping your feet separated is a great option in any handstand/headstand/forearm-stand variation until your comfortable and strong enough to get both legs up.
This is one of the most challenging inversions from a technique perspective because it’s so important to keep pressure on your head and neck to a minimum. However, once you’re able to do this pose properly, it’s an incredibly cooling posture—and one of the only inversions in which you can close your eyes and stay upside down for 5, 10, 15 minutes or longer without fatiguing.
And, one of the most accessible inversions of all…
Legs Up the Wall Pose
These are just a few ways to practice inversions, but I hope these inspire a new outlook on your practice—and your life!
P.S. If you’re interested in learning and practicing inversions in the presence of a qualified instructor who can help support you, offer variations and modifications, and more… join us on Sunday, March 31st for our “Learn Inversions” workshop with Jen!