I still remember the amazing feeling I had when, after more than a year of practice, I realized my body could balance on my head… it felt like a huge step forward in the right direction and gave me the perfect amount of motivation I needed.
It made me understand how my body was changing with practice allowing me to do things that I never thought possible.
Inversions are among the most spectacular asanas of yoga. On the internet, especially in social media, when talking about yoga, we often see different postures on the hands, forearms, or the head.
Though they surely raise curiosity and enthusiasm, they are also the asanas that can make the beginner yogi more scared.
Plus, inversions are not only handstands… by “definition” an asana is inverted when the heart is above the head.
So yes!!! With Adho Mukha Svanasana (downward-facing dog) you can take advantage of the benefits of the inversion too!
And, like downward dog, there are many simple inversions that you can practice to get used to the feelings of this type of asana, enhance your confidence and remove the fear of being upside down.
By practicing positions that strengthen your center and upper body, then you will also have the strength to deal with more demanding inversions in a completely natural way.
It is true that for some of them you need years of practice, but given the many benefits they bring, it is worth practicing and mastering them.
The Benefits Of Inversions
- Strength: Many inversions strengthen arms, shoulders, and abdomen and improve the functionality of these parts.
- Balance: The attention focuses on the center of the body that holds weight through the column, improving balance and equilibrium in standing positions.
- Energy: active positions such as the downward-facing dog, dolphin, Sirsasana (headstand), or any arm balance, awaken, fortify the heart and give a sense of tone and energy.
- Circulatory system: helps venous return, stimulates blood flow to the brain and sense organs.
- Lymphatic system: As with the bloodstream, they help drainage to the center of the body, especially for the circulation of the lower limbs. The effect increases if the positions are held for long periods and the legs are above the pelvis.
- Nervous System: Like all active positions, they stimulate the nervous system, awaken, and warm the body.
- Relaxation: Taken more passively, or using props, they allow deep and quick relaxation and calm.
- Concentration: Especially when there’s balance with the inversion they also favor concentration.
- Cleaning: Helping us to gain a new perspective. They are usually an unusual experience and help develop new reference systems. The effect of being upside down helps us reset our mind, clean it up, and helps to break up fixed thinking patterns.
- Ego: Many of these positions, given the commitment they require to be mastered, balance the ego, and stimulate patience, courage, and acceptance.
- Fun: They help cultivate confidence and get in touch with the sense of play and fun. Like babies, even adults, once they overcome their first fears, enjoy being upside down. It must be something ancestral, but when you start, trust me, it becomes addictive!
Listen to your body
These are often difficult and challenging positions and it’s good to deal with them with caution. Many are to be avoided if we are recovering from trauma to the head or neck.
The most intense ones should be avoided and, in any case, to be kept low if you have high blood pressure.
They shouldn’t be done with a rush, but with concentration and balance, practicing regularly while respecting your own limits to gradually increase.
And introduced after a warming practice with asanas that dissolve and tone our shoulders and strengthens our center.
Remember that it’s helpful to rest for a few breaths after the most advanced inversions, child pose is perfect and it feels sooo good!
Sure, there are unstable positions and there’s a risk of falling. So, until you feel safe it is best to practice near a wall or with a teacher assisting you.
Last but not least… these asanas can easily induce confrontation with others. It is obvious the difference between those who master them, and those (like me) who still need support or preparatory positions; You may fall into discomfort or, even worse, exaggerate in wanting to do it at all costs with the risk of getting hurt.
It is useful to focus attention on the inside and to respect the times of your body without forgetting that what truly gives results is a patient and regular practice.
“Your body can do it. It’s your mind you need to convince.”