Headstands, arm balances, forearm stands, handstands…
There are so many different variations of inverted poses and no limits here. Though, I know many people who are really afraid of inversions.
To be honest, I was scared like hell of a simple supported headstand before I tried it out for the first time one year ago. I was anxious that I’d break my neck and fall and hurt myself badly, and so I started practicing the way more difficult forearm stand (Pincha Mayurasana) instead, as I felt like my neck would be more safe here. This practice taught me a lot about the strength that I need in my shoulders and in my core, and I was lacking a lot of strength when I started. It took me almost two years to be able to hold this pose longer than 10 seconds without the support of a wall, just to give you a little timeframe. And I’m still practicing.
Falling out ungracefully from inversions is as inevitable as practicing them regularly. The point is to get over your fear and to learn to trust yourself. And of course you need to build a lot of physical strength in your core, shoulders and arms before you should try. So, a daily workout is guaranteed… ;)
I can’t count how many times I faceplanted out of arm balances. I still need a wall to support my handstands and there are days when nothing works at all. Some days I even surprise myself and can hold the forearm stand for a minute without a wall, sometimes I fall over in the moment I started trying. But that’s a part of the progress, too, and it’s OK. Yoga is a journey and not the accomplishment of a 100% correctly aligned Asana. It’s what you learn on your way to reach that goal.
So what’s the point of getting inverted anyway?
The benefits of inversions in Yoga
- turn your world upside down
- reverse the blood flow
- feel energizing
- build self confidence
- calm the mind
- build strength
- improve the sense of balance
- strengthen the back and shoulder muscles
- strengthen the core
- improve focus and concentration
- relieve stress and fears
- they’re fun and make a good playtime
You shouldn’t practice inversions if you have
- a headache or migraine
- high blood pressure
- problems with the neck
- problems with your wrists
- pain in your back
- injuries in your shoulders or in the neck
If advanced inversions are way too unattainable for you yet, then you can still practice modified versions or easier Asanas like Downward Facing Dog, shoulderstand (if you don’t have any problems with your neck!) or the supported legs up the wall pose. These poses give you the feeling of being inverted and also have a similar effect on your mind and body.
If you’d like to practice the Crow Pose (Bakasana), but you’re afraid to lift off your feet from the ground, then you could simply get on your toes, put your knees above your elbows and stay there – and maybe shift your weight a little forward and only lift one leg up at a time, just to get that feeling of hovering.
I don’t recommend practicing advanced inversions for the first time alone at home. Instead you should ask your local Yoga teacher for help to support you and to give you some advice.
So, lets play with the inversions, better get started now! :)