Inversions can seem incredibly intimidating or difficult to do, but in reality they are incredibly fun and empowering! It’s all about perspective, not only physically speaking as you see the world upside-down, but also how you mentally approach them. We tend to give our fears far too much attention and our self-confidence not nearly enough. We think that we can’t possibly try that scary inversion without an unfortunate or fatal outcome. Let me tell you now – you’re wrong! No offense, but I’m not sorry. I’m simply telling you the truth of your own abilities. Once you give them a try, you’ll see that they are really not as terrifying as you may have previously thought. Inversions have tons of benefits and they are great fun!
If you’re not yet convinced, the following are some of the benefits you will reap from inverted Yoga poses.
Blood to Brain
Inversions greatly improve your blood circulation simply because of the forces of gravity. Increased blood flow to your brain provides it with more oxygen, which in turn allows it to work much more efficiently. This increased circulation in your cranium lets your cognitive functioning unleash it’s potential. It also allows for a free-flow of blood throughout all other areas in your body that may lack in circulation otherwise.
Whenever you practice inversions, it’s important to always remember not to get up too fast! If all of that blood that temporarily relocated to your head rushes back down too quickly, it can cause dizzy spells or leave you unconscious. To avoid this sleeping beauty syndrome, keep your head low and place your head on your mat or push your thumbs between your brows for a few seconds until your blood pressure levels equalize.
Most inversions require great core strength. With time and practice of inversions, especially those like the Headstand Pose, we build our abdominal and back muscles and create the core strength needed to hold most inversions. This is especially beneficial for those who suffer from back pain. It also leads to better posture.
Since the balancing act of inversions requires perfect alignment of the spine, they are very beneficial for proper posture. This goes hand in hand with core strength. These two things combined transform your posture completely.
Besides strength and alignment, inversions require equilibrium. By frequently practicing inverted Yoga poses, we bring balance to our body. The beginner may sway a lot at first, but with time we create more balance. Here, practice really does make perfect.
Inversions are some of the best Yoga poses for a clear mind. Just like any other balancing poses, they too demand your complete composure. They are the best at quieting mind as they require your full attention and presence, otherwise down will come the leaning tower of asana. When we consistently practice inverted poses, we have a new view of the world. This can be distracting if we become too involved with thought. What it teaches us is how to remain centered regardless of external circumstances or situation. Therefore, to master inversions or other extreme balancing poses is truly to master the mind.
The following is a list of inverted Yoga poses for all levels and circumstances, starting from the most accessible to the most advanced. When trying inversions, do so against a wall to support your feet until you become balanced and build core strength. It’s also a good idea to use the helping hands of a Yogi friend. Practicing inversions can be much more rewarding (and a lot more fun!) with Partner Yoga..
Prasarita Padottanasana (Wide-Stance Forward Bend)
This is a simple inversion that is often used as an alternative asana to the other inversions for anyone who has neck or back issues. It’s also an alternative inversion for females who are menstruating. Practicing the Wide-Stance Forward Bend Pose gives us similar benefits to the other inversions and allows us to become familiar with the upside-down world.
Salamba Sarvangasana (Supported Shoulder Stand)
A fun and simple inversion is the supported shoulder stand. Here, we can start to strengthen our core and begin to increase blood flow to our brain.
Salamba Sirsasana (Supported Headstand)
A supported shoulder stand is the foundation for the more advanced inverted Yoga poses. There are several steps to this pose, which should be practiced individually before moving onto the next to build up the strength necessary to support our inverted body.
Pincha Mayurasana (Feathered Peacock Pose)
Without the support of our head, the Feathered Peacock Pose may seem intimidating. It looks much more scary than it actually feels, to be honest. It’s actually a lot of fun!
Adho Mukha Vrksasana (Downward-Facing Tree Pose or Handstand)
The ultimate inverted pose – the Handstand. This pose may take time simply to build up the arm strength and possibly the courage. Again, there’s nothing to be afraid of. Build your foundation first. Take it slow and step-by-step. You’ve got this!
A New Perspective
Practicing inversions is an extremely liberating experience. We conquer our fears, master our minds and connect with our bodies. If you make your practice persistent, you’ll soon see the joy they bring. Have fun and enjoy your new perspective!