"I want to turn the whole thing upside down
I'll find the things they say just can't be found
I'll share this love I find with everyone
We'll sing and dance to Mother Nature's songs
I don't want this feeling to go away" - Upside Down, song by Jack Johnson
The thought of going upside down can be wrought with much hesitation, anxiety and fear around the possibility of falling down. It's something we tend to associate with an advanced yoga practice and many of us start out thinking, "I'll never be able to do that."
We see others on their mats next to us in a yoga class magically float their legs up in the air as if they are weightless. We stare in awe. But, did you know that if you've ever witnessed someone in person or on a YouTube video invert, you're closer than you may think to doing it yourself! First, we need to SEE it, then we need to TRY it, then we need to FAIL (and yes, in this case sometimes that means falling) and keep trying and failing over and over until eventually we are able to EMBODY it! If you would like to add simple or more advanced inversions into your yoga practice, have confidence in yourself and work with your yoga teacher on these step by steps.
Step 1: SEE IT. Watch and watch and re-watch your teacher or someone with training embody the inversion and break it down step-by-step.
Step 2: Break it down and TRY IT.
Learn the prep pose.
Learn what parts of your body you need to activate and engage.
Work with your teacher on learning the beginning prep poses. Try lifting 1 leg up and holding it. Stay with it. Keep your focus on embodying the prep pose.
Avoid kicking both legs up against a wall. Think, "lift" not "kick."
Step 3: TIME. Time to practice it over and over and over again. And, this takes time.
It will not happen over night or even in 1 month.
Grant yourself the time it takes to fully embody an inversion. Work with your teacher.
Step 4: BELIEVE. Imagine yourself in the inversion you are working towards. Yes, this sounds silly, but it's part of it. Mentally picture yourself going upside down & believe that you can. Have dreams about it.
Create the imagery of what you might look like upside down.
How might it feel?
Step 5: Relish in the many physical & mental BENEFITS of going upside down.
The physical benefits of inversions go far beyond how they strengthen the muscles in your arms, legs, back and core. Inversions help blood circulation and the flow of oxygenated blood to your brain. Inversions flush your lymphatic system and can enliven or relax your nervous system.
Need an energy boost? Try an energizing inversion like headstand or handstand that will rush the flow of blood to your brain and give you a natural brain boost. Need help relaxing? Try lifting your legs up the wall and allow the nervous system to calm down, feel more balanced and peaceful.
And one bonus step: any inversion will do!
You do not need to do a headstand to reap the mental and physical benefits of inversions. Technically, an inversion is any pose where your heart is higher from the ground than your head. Downward facing dog is an inversion!
Depending on whether you want to feel invigorated or relax, work with your teacher on which inversion/s you want to work to embody. Let your confidence build. Yes, you too can go upside down!