This is Part Two of my #GetInvertedWithMe  blog series.   If you missed it, find Part One here.   There’s lots of helpful strengthening postures to help yoga inversion prep.

Over the last two weeks, I have been working on building strength in the shoulders and core, as prescribed in Part One!  Hopefully you will have been doing the same if you are joining me in this challenge <3    I’m beginning to think that ‘mastering’ inversions is 75% confidence and 25% strength, and I think that every time I fall out of one, I lose a little more of my fear.   Of course, upper body strength plays a major part in it, but I’m pretty sure that I need to work on the fear factor more.

What do you think limits you? I would love to hear other peoples’ stories.

Now, with no further ado, get yourself warmed up with lots of sun salutations before you scroll down and start to work on the poses described below.  It is very important that your body is warm and your muscles are relaxed and energised!

Week Two – Get Upside Down

I’ll be discussing a few poses for strength and balance improvement this week, and we’ll also be trying a few supported (with a wall!) inversions.   And remember, as with any new exercise routine, please consult your doctor or a medical professional before trying these poses, particularly if you have any injuries or conditions that may be exacerbated from doing them.  If it hurts or doesn’t feel right, come out of the posture.

 

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1. Dolphin pose

We worked on dolphin plank in the last post, where the body is a long straight line from the shoulders to the heels.  This time let’s work on dolphin, which is a forearm version of downward dog.  From dolphin plank, lift the hips so your body becomes an inverted ‘V’ shape, and work on stabilising your shoulder girdle.    This is great for creating strength in the shoulder region, which is especially important for poses like Pincha Mayurasana which we may meet later on in the blog series!  Breath here for 5 breaths, and repeat for a total of 3, coming into dolphin (forearm) plank in between reps if you want a challenge, or down to child’s pose if you need a break.

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2. Supported headstand (Sirsasana)

From dolphin, bring your knees to the mat and come up onto your palms for a tabletop-like position.  We’re going to do this against the wall, so bring your mat so it is perpendicular to the wall.  Form a cradle for your head by interlacing your fingers and placing your forearms and outer wrists on the mat.  You can either bring your palms to touch with your head in the space below your wrists (more support) or you can keep your palms wrapped round the crown of your head (generally easier).   Whichever way you decide to do it, make sure that there are a good few inches of space between the base of the wall and your knuckles, as this will help you find that balance ‘sweet spot’.

Now, straighten your legs so that your knees come off the mat, keeping the crown of your head in its ‘cradle’ (your hands).  Walk your feet in towards your head as much as you can. Hamstring flexibility can be a limiting factor here, so keep doing those forward folds!  When you can’t walk your feet in any further, lift one foot off the mat and bring the knee in towards your chest.  Staying here and occasionally swapping your feet is always an option!

If you are ready, you can then lift the other foot up and bend the knee in towards your chest.  Then, begin to extend both the legs up towards the ceiling.  Try not to use the wall too much as this may make you used to having that support and will make ‘weaning’ yourself off it more difficult.  You can see that in the left hand picture, my legs are against the wall, but I used my core strength to move myself away from it and balance in the right hand picture.  Try to keep your ankles together, and keep the legs engaged.

Remember to breathe – focusing on the breath is the most powerful tool I can recommend.   Stay for 5-15 breaths, gradually increasing it with practice.  When you want to come down, come straight into Child’s pose and stay there as long as you need.

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3. Crow/Crane pose (bakasana)

This pose is the most accessible of the arm balances, and is a great way to practice having all the weight in your arms but without having your feet miles above you!!  To avoid injury, it is so important here to ensure that the weight is evenly distributed across your fingers (especially that index finger knuckle), rather than in your wrists.

Come into a squat position, with your heels off the mat, and bring your knees in to your triceps.  You’ll probably need to bend your elbows to achieve this.  Check that index finger knuckle is pressing into the mat, and imagine that your fingers are clawing the ground (without losing the connection to the mat) as this will help you stabilise your foundation.

With your knees still bent, lift one foot off the mat and breathe here.  If you don’t want to go further than that this time that’s totally fine, you can play around with lifting one foot up, placing it back down and then lifting the other.  Life, and especially yoga, is not a race!  It’s much more important to build this solid foundation of breath and focus than anything else.

However, when you lift one foot, you may find that the other one wants to follow.   Equally cool! Press your knees into your triceps and your triceps into your knees.  This will encourage you to organically straighten the arms.   Just play in this posture, and whether you get hang time of one second or ten breaths just remember that this is a journey, a process, and we are all perfect just as we are.

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5. L-handstand

This is a great way of finding out how it feels to have your hips directly over your shoulders, with all your weight in the wrists.  It may feel really intense, but doing a couple of breaths of this every few practices will get you accustomed to it.  I promise!

Start in a very compact downward dog, as seen in the left picture.  You want your hands to be about leg-distance from the wall (measuring it out is recommended until you naturally can gauge the distance!), but you can always adjust them once you’re ‘up’.  Bring your heels to the base of the wall, and breath here.

Then, if/when you’re ready, walk your feet up the wall, one at a time! Keep your legs straight once you’re up there, and try to keep your hips over your shoulders, and your feet in line with your hips (I’m not doing a great job of this thanks to the dado rail in the way ha).   Keep your neck relaxed and jaw soft, staying here for 5-10 breaths.

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6. Paschimottanasana 

After all that physically-taxing practice, it’s heaven to take a lovely long forward fold.  Sit down, extend your legs out in front of you.  It’s sometimes nice to have a slight bend in the knees for a more therapeutic fold, or you can keep them straight if you prefer.  Hinge forward at the hips, folding forwards and bringing your hands to your knees, shins or feet – wherever you’re at today 🙂

 

That’s all for today – stay tuned for part 3 of the blog series, and in the meantime keep practicing!

 

Tali xxx

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