Going upside down is SCARY! Or is it? Let’s talk about inversions people. You see them everywhere; Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, literally everywhere. So you start doing yoga and you really want to get upside down and then it happens. FEAR! The fear gets you and you try to kick up but nothing is happening, but you want it so bad. Try taking a few steps back and play with the following inversion prep poses to prepare you for the real deal. Let’s check it out.
First of all, why do we do inversions?
- It’s good for your brain:
Going upside down provides the brain with more oxygen. More oxygen to the brain equals better circulation, a stronger ability to concentrate, improves memory and increases mental function; to name a few.
- It helps you chill out:
Simply laying with your legs up the wall in poses like Viparita Karani or practicing shoulder stand also known as Salamba Sarvangasana can help you calm your mind. When we do poses like this it activates our Parasympathetic Nervous System which is one of three divisions of the autonomic nervous system. It’s also been called the rest and digest system. It produces the feeling of being calm.
- Boosts Immunity:
Did someone say inversions can prevent illness? Inversions may enhance functioning of your lymphatic system. The lymphatic system helps defend the body against infection by supplying disease-fighting cells called lymphocytes. It clears waste from cells and tissues and circulates antibodies.
It is important that you have a regular yoga practice to perform most inversions, specifically Handstand (Adho Mukha Vrksasana), Headstand (Sirsasana), Shoulder Stand (Salamba Sarvangasana) and Forearm Stand (Pincha Mayurasana) to name a few. Inversions require strength, flexibility, and confidence. It’s important to make sure that you are warmed up and have targeted the areas that are most important for these poses (upper back, shoulders, arms, core). The following prep poses will do just that.
Who should NOT do inversions?
It is suggested that if you are experiencing any of the following you should avoid inversions and speak with your physician first. Make sure that you always inform your instructor of any health problems prior to class as well.
* History of severe eye problems, stroke, high blood pressure, wrist, neck and shoulder problems, pregnancy (some women with a strong yoga practice will perform inversions but I would highly suggest speaking with your doctor first and working with a teacher that is well versed in pre and post natal yoga).
Prep Poses For Inversions
Strengthens shoulders and upper back. Opens shoulders and upper back.How To:
*Start on your hands and knees, on a mat, facing a wall
*Interlace your fingers
*Place your interlaced fingers at the wall, they should be touching the wall
*Elbows shoulders distance apart
*Curl the toes under and lift the hips, walking the feet in towards your hands
*Feet are hips distance apart
*Root down through the outer edges of your hands, the wrists, forearms, and elbows
*Rebound up through the upper arms
*Press the thighs back
*Allow the head to hang freely
*Draw the shoulders away from the ears and in towards the spine and spread across your collarbones
*Lengthen the spine and lift the hips
- Puppy Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
Loosens shoulder muscles. Lengthens the back and spine muscles.
*Start by standing in front of a wall
*Place your hands, palms facing out, on your hip bones. Walk your entire body towards the wall. Now place your hands on the wall. This is the height your hands should be in this pose (hips height).
*Hands are shoulders width apart
*Walk your feet back so that your hips align over your heels
*Feet are hips distance and parallel
*Press your hands firmly into the wall and your feet firmly into the floor
*Keep your ears in line with the arms
*Draw the shoulders away from your ears and firm them in towards the spine
*Extend all sides of the torso evenly. Do not arch your lower back
- Plank (Ardha Chaturanga Dandasana)
Builds wrist, arm, abdominal, shoulder, and back strengthHow To:
*Start on your hands and knees
*Hands shoulders distance apart and directly below your shoulders
*Walk your right foot back and then your left
*Feet are flexed and hips distance apart
*Root down through the palms of the hands and rebound up through the arms as you also root down through the ball points of the feet and lift the inner and outer arches
*Keep the neck in line with the spine
*Draw the shoulders away from the ears, spread across the collarbones and draw the shoulders in towards the spine
*Lower back is neither arched nor rounded
*Draw the frontal hip bones towards the front ribs
*Press back through the heels to straighten the legs as you lift the inner thighs towards the ceiling and firm the outer thighs in
There are so many poses that you can do to build the strength that is necessary to practice inversions but these are a great start. Try doing these poses every day in order to build strength in your shoulders, abdomen, back, wrists and arms. Soon you’ll be taking flight and you’re going to love it!