Changing Your Point of View
The elusive wheel pose, the seemingly impossible handstand, the gravity defying legs floating to the sky in the middle of yoga class. If I asked you about the biggest barrier to practicing inversions, what would come to mind? Strength, balance? Nope! The number one obstacle to getting upside down is FEAR. So often, fear is based not in reality, but in the mind. Fear can get in the way of wonderful experiences, such as practicing inversions.
Inversions give us the opportunity to move away from habitual patterns and, quite literally, shift our perspective. There are so many amazing benefits of being upside down, physically, psychologically, and energetically.
- Improve Circulation– Inversions increase blood flow to the heart, lungs, and brain. Lymphatic circulation is also improved, which supports the immune system, working to fight sickness and keep you healthy.
- Strengthen Your Body – Practicing inversions requires both mental and physical strength. Inverting strengthens the core, toning the back and abdominal muscles, and increasing balance.
- Clear Your Mind– The higher levels of oxygen flowing to the brain, promote mental clarity, memory stimulation, and concentration. Inversions also increase creativity and confidence.
- Boost Your Mood– Inversions balance hormones and release endorphins, stabilizing the mood and calming the nervous system. They can ease symptoms of depression or feelings of stress.
You don’t have to hold a headstand for an hour every day in Buddha manner to reap the benefits of inversions. Here are a few accessible inversions you can begin incorporating into your yoga practice (or your daily life!):
Viparita Karani (Waterfall): A simple pose that still gives you all the great benefits. This pose can be practiced with the backs of your legs against a wall, or with your hips propped up on a block or bolster. Practice this pose for 15 minutes every day, especially when you think you don’t have the time.
Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog): Yes! Even Down Dog is an inversion. Much of your body is above your heart, taking some of the pressure of the most important muscle in your body.
Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge): Bridge Pose is an accessible inversion and backbend. This pose opens the chest, shoulders, and hips while encouraging strength in the legs and feet. This pose also stimulates the thyroid gland and activates the visshuda (throat) chakra.
Chakrasana (Wheel Pose): Once you master bridge pose, you can challenge yourself by extending into Full Wheel Pose. While Bridge and Wheel have many of the same benefits, the difference is the depth of the asana. Wheel pose is a more expansive heart opener and a deeper inversion. Bridge is a great prep pose for Chakrasana!
What’s your favorite inversion? Share with us your strategies for conquering your fears!