How To Build An Inversion Practice
Depending on when you walk into a yoga class, it can either look like a giant group nap or an audition for a traveling circus. You might see people standing on their heads, others seamlessly transitioning from handstands to no-legged push ups, and even people balancing on one arm.
For beginner yoga students or students who haven’t yet developed an inversion practice, this type of activity can be intimidating.
The thing about inversions is that they don’t need to involve these sorts of fancy balancing acts. Rather, an inversion is simply the act of having your head below your heart.
If you’re trying to build an inversion practice of any level, check out these tips from Yoga Pod Denver West!
1. Understand What An Inversion Is
As we mentioned, inversions are not just headstands or handstands. Whether you’ve taken one yoga class or a million, you already have an existing inversion practice! So, you have a foundation on which to build.
Indeed, forward folds, downward dog, and legs-up-the-wall are all examples of inversions that a regular yoga practice includes.
Instead of fixating on headstand as the ultimate inversion, take comfort in knowing that you’re still getting the benefits of inversions in every yoga class you take.
2. Set a Drishti Point (Gaze)
Would you believe us if we told you that your retinas were the key to a solid inversion practice? In addition to core strength, your gaze (Drishti, in Sanskrit) is fundamental to balancing inversions.
In general, your body will go where your gaze goes.
Take crow pose (bakasana) for instance. In crow, it’s our natural tendency to look down toward our feet. When we look toward our feet, however, that’s where our energy goes! So, we’re much more likely to fall out of balance. Instead, set your gaze in front of you. This way, you’re encouraging energy forward, propelling you into the arm balance.
3. Engage Your Core
“Engage your core” is one of those yoga cues that’s thrown around as frequently as candy on Halloween. It starts to become a meaningless cue unless you actually know how to engage your core.
In inversions, especially arm balances, the core is the primary muscle involved. Without an engaged core, it’s much harder to maintain the balance. To engage your core, imagine your belly button sucking in toward your spine. This simple act engages your transverse abdominus — the primary muscle layer of your core.
4. Ask For A Spot
A lot of the time, we’re reluctant to try a new arm balance because we’re worried we might fall. One solution is to prop yourself close to a mirror. This way, you can kick up into the mirror and use it as support. This isn’t always ideal, especially if you’re worried about shattering the glass or if you’re in the middle of the room.
Consider asking for a spot from your yoga instructor instead. Chances are they’ll be more than willing to assist and can offer a spot for safety, alignment, and comfort.
If you’re looking for a yoga studio to grow your practice, inverted or not, check out Yoga Pod Denver West. Conveniently nestled near I-70 and Highway 6, our yoga studio is the community you need.