Inversions are something that I practice every single day. It's cemented into my daily yoga routine and every day I get a little better, a little stronger. I wasn't really progressing until I had more of a structured practice and there were a few small adjustments I made to ensure balance and stability. It's most definitely still a work in progress, though! It can be scary at first to figure out what it's like to reverse the way you see the world. Never fear though, because fear is usually the only thing that keeps people from trying it. Most of the time people are strong enough to find that balance. I've been having my fiancé work on ashtanga yoga and the first time we talked him into headstand he wanted to kill me. He's practiced it for 1 week and he can already lift his legs in headstand up and against the wall. Progress can be made with perseverance and determination and maybe even a little bit of bravery.
Tips I find helpful
- Lift from the armpits. This is the weirdest one, honestly, because how strange to think about activating your armpits?! It just baffled me for a while, but I started getting used to this sensation in up-dog where I would really press and lift through the armpits to constantly build that strength. So if I'm upside-down, like in the photo above, I try to root and press down but also lift in the armpits. It brings an incredible amount of stability, and as I get stronger there, I'll be able to really get even more lift and balance to be able to hold it longer. This also prevents the shoulders from collapsing down, which we don't want.
- Use the wall and deconstruct. I still use the wall most of the time during practice and I've deconstructed the handstand by jumping into it from down dog and tucking my heels into my butt. When I get up I leave my legs tucked to build the core strength and let my toes come off the wall to get used to the sensation of tilting my pelvis to find balance. This is a great idea if you've mastered holding your handstand against the wall and need to progress
- Make sure to breathe. Mastering the breath is a challenge in itself and then learning how to link the pose with the breath is where things start to really click. When I'm going into a handstand Ill always enter it on an inhale. Feels counterintuitive but there's more fluid control that way.
- Headstand and shoulderstand are fantastic. There are so many core-building benefits to each and also do wonders for recirculating blood. I've heard rumors that constantly refreshing the course of your blood flow can be anti-aging (!) so sign me up!
Give it a shot in your workout next time (with caution) and let me know if you want more tips, feel free to email me in my contact section form (it goes to my email) <3
Photos: Marianna Massey