There are so many benefits of going upside down such as, improved circulation, clearing the lymphatic system, stimulating the nervous system, building core strength, and allowing the spine space to decompress – just to name a few. However, sometimes our fear can stop us learning inversions.
Going upside down can be such a playful, youthful experience. Ever see children cartwheel and rolling around in the parks without a fear in the world? As adults we can borrow some of this child-like playfulness and turn our world up-side down!
But where to start? Having the strength to kick or float to an inversion requires some core strength – so we can start training this with various different non-upside down exercises. Some of my favourites are tuck-ups, leading to V-ups – start by laying on the back, legs zipped together, arms extended overhead (it’s good to start thinking about handstands already!) then lift your legs a little off the ground, pushing your lower back into the floor. If this isn’t possible, keep lifting the legs until your lower back is down. This position is ‘home’ and some people call it ‘dish’. From here you can exhale as you sit up, bring the arms parallel to the ground, either bending the knees and drawing the thighs to your belly (tuck ups), or with straight legs (V ups), in yoga we call this static pose boat, or navasana.
When you start feeling more confident, you can think of the path to handstand like a pyramid scheme, starting with headstand, then forearm stand, then handstand. If you think about the points of contact on the ground, let’s start with more, before we try to just balance on the hands.
When trying a headstand for the first time, you can be close to a wall, or ask a friend to stand behind you, with their hands on your hips. It’s best to go to a class to learn the proper technique – as with weight in the head and hands – being safe and not injuring your neck is paramount.
I don’t work for them – but I do recommend ‘feet-up’ trainers which are great tools for going upside down – as it allows you to have all the amazing benefits without any pressure on the head. It’s also great for those who are more advanced – I am working on my forearm and handstand on top of the feet-up – in a similar way that you would use handstand canes. Wherever your at in your inversion journey – or maybe your about to start – relish in the journey – getting specific shapes i.e a straight handstand can take a lot of time, so try and enjoy where you are right now, and play safe!
Lauren Azor @laurenacroyoga