Inversions In Yoga: Everything You Need To Know

Yoga inversions are a challenging yet exhilarating aspect of a yoga practice that has become increasingly popular in recent years.

Inversions involve turning your body upside down or placing your head below your heart and can include poses such as headstands, handstands, and shoulder stands. 

Inversions In Yoga Everything You Need To Know

While these poses may seem intimidating, they offer a variety of physical, mental, and emotional benefits that make them well worth exploring. 

In this article, we’ll delve into everything you need to know about yoga inversions.

Whether you’re a seasoned yogi looking to take your practice to the next level or a curious beginner, this guide will provide you with the knowledge and confidence to explore the world of yoga inversions! Let’s get started.

What Are Inversions In Yoga?

In yoga, inversions are poses that involve placing the head below the heart or turning the body upside down. This can include poses such as headstands, handstands, shoulder stands, forearm stands, and other variations. 

Inversions can be both challenging and energizing, as they require strength, balance, and focus. They are often considered advanced poses and should be approached with caution and proper instruction. 

Inversions are also known for their physical, mental, and emotional benefits, which include increased circulation, improved digestion and immunity, and a sense of mental clarity and confidence.

What Are The Benefits Of Inversions In Yoga?

Inversions in yoga offer a range of benefits for the body, mind, and emotions. Here are some of the most common benefits.

Improved Circulation 

When you invert your body, gravity helps to improve blood flow and circulation, especially to the upper body and brain. This can help to oxygenate the cells, boost immunity, and support overall cardiovascular health.

Strengthening Of The Core And Upper Body

Inversions require a lot of upper body strength and core engagement, making them great for building strength and stability in these areas.

Improved Balance And Coordination

Inversions challenge your balance and coordination, as well as your ability to stay focused and present in the moment.

Reduced Stress And Anxiety

Inversions can help to calm the nervous system and reduce feelings of stress and anxiety. They are also said to help improve mood and increase feelings of confidence and self-esteem.

Improved Digestion

Inversions can help to stimulate digestion and improve the functioning of the digestive system, making them beneficial for people with digestive issues.

Increased Lymphatic Drainage

Inversions can help to increase lymphatic drainage and detoxify the body, supporting overall health and well-being.

It’s important to note that inversions can be challenging and should be approached with caution and proper instruction. Don’t forget that you need to listen to your body and only practice inversions that feel safe and comfortable for you.

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The Most Popular Yoga Inversion Poses

There are many yoga inversion poses, ranging from beginner-friendly to advanced. Let’s take a look at some of the most common and popular poses and how to go about performing them for yourself. 

Headstand (Sirsasana)

This is a classic inversion pose in which you balance on your forearms and head. It requires a lot of upper body strength and core engagement, as well as proper alignment and balance.

  • Start off on your hands and knees, with your hands kept a shoulders-width apart and your knees hip-width apart.
  • Interlace your fingers and place your forearms on the ground, elbows shoulder-width apart.
  • Place the top of your head on the ground, with the back of your head cradled in your hands.
  • Walk your feet in towards your head, keeping your knees bent.
  • Slowly lift one leg towards the ceiling, using your core and leg strength to keep your balance.
  • When you feel stable, lift the other leg towards the ceiling, straightening both legs.
  • Engage your core and leg muscles to maintain your balance, and hold the pose.
  • Slowly lower one leg at a time, returning to the starting position on your hands and knees.

Don’t forget to approach the headstand with caution and proper alignment, as it can be a challenging pose that puts a lot of pressure on the neck and shoulders. 

It’s also important to work with a qualified yoga teacher to learn the proper technique and modifications for your body and skill level.

Handstand (Adho Mukha Vrksasana)

Handstand is an advanced inversion pose that involves balancing on your hands with your legs lifted toward the ceiling. It requires a lot of upper body strength, core stability, and balance.

  • Begin in a downward-facing dog pose. Make sure your hands are shoulder-width apart and keep your feet hip-width apart.
  • Walk your feet towards your hands, coming into a forward fold with your hands on the ground.
  • Place your hands shoulder-width apart on the ground, with your fingers wide.
  • Lift one leg off the ground, engaging your core and leg muscles to maintain your balance.
  • When you feel stable, lift the other leg off the ground, bringing both legs up toward the ceiling.
  • Engage your core and arm muscles to maintain your balance, and hold the pose for a couple of breaths.
  • Lower one leg at a time slowly and return to the starting position in the downward-facing dog.

As with the handstand, you need to be able to approach the handstand with caution and proper alignment. It is another very challenging pose that requires a lot of upper body strength, core stability, and balance. 

Beginners may want to start with a wall-supported handstand, using a wall to assist with balance and stability.

Shoulder Stand (Sarvangasana)

This is a less intense inversion pose that involves lifting your legs and hips up while balancing on your shoulders. It’s great for stimulating the thyroid gland and improving circulation.

  • Begin lying on your back. Make sure that your arms are at your sides with your palms facing down.
  • Lift your legs towards the ceiling, using your hands to support your hips.
  • Use your core and leg muscles to lift your hips off the ground, bringing your legs over your head and towards the floor behind you.
  • Place your hands on your lower back for support, with your elbows on the ground.
  • Keep your neck long and relaxed, and hold the pose for a few seconds.
  • Lower your legs back towards the ground, keeping the movement slow and rolling down one vertebra at a time.

Beginners may want to use a blanket or bolster under their shoulders for added support and should avoid this pose if they have any neck or shoulder issues.

Forearm Stand (Pincha Mayurasana)

This is an intermediate to advanced pose that involves balancing on your forearms with your legs lifted toward the ceiling. It requires a lot of upper body strength and core engagement, as well as balance and flexibility.

  • Start the pose on your hands and knees, with your forearms on the ground and your elbows shoulder-width apart.
  • Interlace your fingers, and place the top of your head on the ground between your hands.
  • Lift your hips up and come into the dolphin pose.
  • Walk your feet in towards your head, keeping your knees bent.
  • Slowly lift one leg towards the ceiling, using your core and leg strength to keep your balance.
  • When you feel stable, lift the other leg towards the ceiling, straightening both legs.
  • Engage your core and leg muscles to maintain your balance, and hold the pose.
  • Slowly lower one leg at a time, returning to the dolphin pose, and then back to hands and knees.

Beginners may want to start by practicing the dolphin pose, building strength in the shoulders and core before attempting to lift the legs.

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Plow Pose (Halasana)

This pose involves lifting the legs over the head while lying on your back. It’s a great way to stretch the spine, shoulders, and hamstrings, and can be modified with props if necessary.

  • Begin lying on your back with your arms at your sides, palms facing down.
  • Lift your legs up towards the ceiling, using your hands to support your hips.
  • Exhale and lower your legs overhead, bringing your feet towards the floor behind your head.
  • Keep your knees straight and your toes pointed towards the floor.
  • If possible, interlace your fingers behind your back, straightening your arms and pressing your shoulder blades into the ground.
  • Keep your neck long and relaxed, and hold the pose for several breaths.
  • To end the pose, slowly release your hands and roll down one vertebra at a time, returning to lying on your back.

Make sure to avoid this pose if you have any issues with your neck or shoulders

Downward-Facing Dog Pose (Adho Mukha Svanasana)

This is a popular yoga pose that is often used as a transition between other poses. It’s a mild inversion that stretches the entire body, especially the hamstrings, shoulders, and back.

  • Start the pose on your hands and knees. Again, keep your hands at a shoulder-width apart and your knees at a hip-width apart.
  • Spread out your fingers wide with your palms pressed into the ground while lifting your hips up, keeping them firmly pointed toward the ceiling.
  • Straighten your legs and arms while keeping your hips lifted. Make sure to keep both your arms and legs as straight as possible. 
  • Press your heels towards the ground, or keep your knees slightly bent if your hamstrings are tight.
  • Engage your core and lengthen your spine, bringing your head between your arms.
  • Hold the pose for several breaths, focusing on your breath and relaxing your body.
  • Lower your knees to the ground and come back to hands and knees.

Downward-facing dog is commonly categorized as an inversion pose in yoga, although it is often considered a mild or partial inversion. This is because the head is positioned below the heart, which can promote circulation and increase blood flow to the brain.

While the downward-facing dog may not be a fully inverted pose, it still provides many benefits for the body and mind. It strengthens the arms, shoulders, and core, stretches the hamstrings and calves, and can help relieve tension in the neck and shoulders. 

As well as that, it can help calm the mind and reduce stress, making it a popular pose for both beginners and experienced yogis.

Crow Pose (Bakasana)

Crow pose is an arm-balancing yoga posture that requires strength, balance, and concentration.

  • Begin in a low squat position with your feet hip-distance apart and your toes pointing forward.
  • Place your palms on the ground in front of you, shoulder-distance apart, and spread your fingers wide.
  • Bend your elbows and place them on the back of your upper arms. This will create a shelf for your knees.
  • Lift your hips up, and shift your weight forward onto your hands, coming onto the balls of your feet.
  • Bring your knees to rest on the back of your upper arms, as close to your armpits as possible.
  • Begin to shift your weight forward even more, lifting your feet off the ground. Keep your gaze forward and your core engaged.
  • Stay in the pose for a few breaths, then release back to the low squat position.

Crow pose can be challenging, especially if you’re new to arm balances, and it is also one that will need specific warm-ups. Warm up your wrists, shoulders, and core before attempting this posture. 

Remember to keep your breath steady and to listen to your body. If you feel any pain or discomfort, come out of the pose and rest.

Final Thoughts

Inversion yoga offers numerous benefits for both the body and the mind. From improving circulation and lymphatic drainage to building core strength and balance, the benefits of inversions are vast. 

However, it is important to approach these poses with caution and respect, as they can be challenging and even dangerous if not performed correctly. 

As with any yoga practice, it is crucial to listen to your body and only push yourself to your limits in a safe and controlled manner. 

With patience, dedication, and proper guidance, anyone can learn to incorporate inversions into their yoga practice and reap the many rewards they offer.

Laura Simmons
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