Yoga has been a popular choice for most people when it comes to meditation and stress relief. Because of its meditative nature, a lot of us include this in our daily practice.
A beautiful fact of yoga lies in the fact that it’s ever-changing. Constantly, there are new depths, variations, and additional practices that are being discovered about this.
There are different ways to practice yoga as it won’t limit you to just the use of your body. Yoga can also be as challenging and as exciting as the more active sports that we now. If you find yourself already satisfied with your current practice, but still want to challenge yourself, inversion poses might be the next option for you.
In this article, we will discuss inversion in yoga, how you can practice inversions, and look at the benefits in more depth.
What is Inversion in Yoga?
In the most basic sense, inversion poses are asanas in Yoga that require your body to be upside down– with your head below your heart as opposed to the normal upright position.
This means any pose that would have your heart above your head, whether it’s as simple as the downward-facing dog, forward fold, or to more complicated poses such as forearm balance and headstand.
A lot of people get intimidated by yoga because they expect that this will require them to be upside down all the time. For a new yogi, it’s quite easy to get daunted by these poses as they’d need a more skilled body.
However, contrary to popular belief, there are steps you can take to improve your skills and practice your inversions safely. Though this does not happen overnight, consistent practice can lead to a more controlled upper body and core.
What are the benefits of Inversion?
Incorporating inverted poses in your yoga routine is recommended by practitioners because yoga inversion is known to have several benefits. This includes strengthening your core, developing flexibility and improving your overall posture, reducing any tension in your body, improved circulation, and increased energy.
Let’s look into this more.
One of the main benefits of inversion is that it improves our blood circulation, Due to its position, it reverses the blood flow allowing the heart to perform better. Because of gravity, the heart naturally tends to perform harder in pumping blood to supply oxygen throughout the body, especially to your brain.
By incorporating inverted poses into your routine, you allow for more blood flow and oxygen to your brain which in turn helps with your concentration.
Reduces Swelling and Pain
Being inverted also helps reduce swelling in pain. Our lymphatic system is something that helps our body remove toxins, bacteria, and the like and according to respected health and medical sites, when you practice inversions it can assist in facilitating lymphatic flow. This will also alleviate general swelling in your body such as swollen ankles from water retention.
Doctors are now using this type of therapy to assist in draining the lymphatic system, and in turn, reduce pain and swelling. Also, if you’ve been standing or walking all day, and you feel discomfort, you may try raising both of your legs on the wall to help in lessening the pain.
Strengthens Your Body
Additionally, one of the core benefits when you practice inversions is really strengthening your core and upper body. When you’re inverted, one of the primary muscle groups that you use would be your abdominal muscles. This keeps your body engaged and prevents you from falling out of your pose.
This is why core training is very important when transitioning to more complicated poses such as this. This is also true for your upper body strength. In poses such as a hand or forearm stand, you’ll mostly rely on your arms for support. Without proper practice, you may easily damage your wrist while completing the routine.
Training is very essential in transitioning to these kinds of poses. As you train your body for this, you’ll see a great difference in your body strength.
Improves Balance and Flexibility
In line with improving one’s strength, inverted yoga poses also help improve balance and flexibility. If you’re upside down, your center of gravity shifts. For beginners, this can be improved through a lot of transitioning exercises. Your core muscles also have a hand in this that’s why balance and strength work hand in hand in every inverted pose.
Flexibility is also improved when you practice inversions. You’ll need to walk your body through hitting its full potential. Through practicing yoga inversion, you allow your body to extend more and increase overall flexibility. Different inverted poses will target different areas of your body so it also helps open up these areas and help you get deeper into the poses.
Increase Body Awareness
Your body awareness will also increase as you practice inversions. This is because you will need a good mind and body connection to perform more complicated poses such as this. You have to be aware of your body– its movement, responses, and reactions to the environment.
Through inverted poses, you get to have a deeper practice thus improving your relationship with your body. Since this will be entirely different from what you’re used to, you’ll tend to shift your focus to your body and its current situation. You’ll have the opportunity to listen more to what your body wants and needs at the moment.
Inverted practices can also increase your confidence. A deeper connection to your body allows you to gain more understanding of its current state. Every time you accomplish your poses, you gain more confidence in your body. You get to see what your body is capable of and that generally improves your self-esteem and body image.
This is why mindfulness is also a big part of yoga practices. You give yourself a chance to quiet the mind and shut off any unnecessary thoughts, and shift your focus on your state. With consistent practice, you’ll be able to change your way of thinking, and ultimately, your perspective in life.
What To Know Before Practicing Yoga Inversion?
Since inversions can be quite tricky for beginners, Here are some ways you can prepare for it.
Change your mindset
A lot of preparations should be done before your actual session- changing your mindset is one. Try to think of this transition as a step-by-step process to achieving your bigger goal. If you’re working on your headstands and handstands, but still appear flimsy, do not pressure yourself into perfecting them instantly.
Try to set goals every session so you’ll have a smoother transition to your practice.
Along with this, go through this with a healthy mind. Do this for self-improvement and betterment. In this way, you’ll have the chance to enjoy the practice more and not worry about other things. Always focus on the positive aspect–how it changes your body and your relationship with it. You can always improve on the areas that you think you’re bad at.
Be consistent in training
Consistency is always key. Remind yourself that you have to be consistent in your practice for you to achieve better results. Your goals do not have to be big and perfect every session. You may work on small things that can still contribute greatly to your practice. Aim to improve yourself in each and every session even just a tad.
Change does not happen overnight. There are steps that you have to take in order to achieve your target. If you’re training your upper body and core, ensure that you are doing the right steps and maintaining your proper form. With consistency, if you are not doing it right, it could also affect the result you are looking for.
As mentioned, try to set an intention for yourself each session. Slowly work towards your progression. If you want to be better at inverted poses, make sure that you already have a strong foundation in terms of your body capabilities. This will allow you to adjust seamlessly and not shock your body with any sudden changes that can lead to serious injuries.
Consult with a professional
This should go without saying, but dipping into more complicated poses would at least require a trained eye. It is important that you are guided by a trained professional all throughout until you are already capable of doing it by yourself.
In this way, they can check which are the things you still need to improve on. They have to check your form, look at your body alignment, and check if you still need to be supported or if you can freely do it on your own. They can also give you important feedback and advice so you can be prepared for you your next session.
What are the ways to practice Yoga Inversion?
There are several ways you can practice yoga inversions. We are not going to show specific poses, as we have other resources available that can guide you through that, but read on to find out some of the ways you can practice inversions.
Aerial Yoga or Anti Gravity Yoga is one of the most effective ways to practice inverted poses. Since you utilize a yoga swing or aerial hammock, you can freely do your poses without having to worry about your support.
It would be relatively easier for you to get deeper into the poses since you are being held up by the yoga swing, which in turn redistributes the pressure on your upper body, and not just your hands or wrists.
Along with this, you won’t have to worry about having a professional to guide you through this as most classes would have a mentor to guide you as you enroll in the class. It will be easier for you to raise your questions and concerns from a trained professional.
A good way to also practice inversions is through Yoga Kurunta or rope wall yoga. This is a lesser-known practice but is now gaining popularity in different areas of the world. Yoga Kurunta mainly uses ropes that are attached to the wall.
A lot of professionals and beginners also recommend this practice for inversion as it gives you additional support, which is the wall, as opposed to your regular aerial yoga.
For this, you can slowly work your way up to more complicated inverted poses with the help of the rope and the wall. Handstands will be ideal to practice here as you can check your alignment and form.
Though not many people are aware of this, just like Aerial Yoga, there are also professionals who will help you at certain studios that offer this practice, which is especially good for beginners. Yoga Kurunta is also a great way to transition from regular yoga to Aerial Yoga.
If you’re not a fan of ropes or slings wrapped around your body, you can try practicing your inversion with Yoga Blocks. Though these might seem like simple tool, this is commonly used by practitioners, especially during their transitions.
These blocks offer extra height and support for those that are still adjusting to certain poses, specifically inverted ones. You can use these blocks to get deeper into the practice without straining your muscles further.
Just keep in mind that these might require a more trained body because though it offers a great addition to your routine, most of your support will be coming from your body weight and control. You will be able to utilize this more once you’re better with your control and you’ve improved your upper body and core strength.
There is really no exact way how you can practice and eventually perfect your inverted poses.
It could depend on the current situation of your body along with your capabilities and limitations.
What’s important is that you know how to take things step-by-step, without forcing yourself. Extreme pressure is not great not only for your physical condition but also for your mental health.
Everything should be done in moderation. But as long as you’re consistent and persistent, you’ll be able to get your desired results!