“Take dolphin, walk your feet in 6-8 inches and, if you want to, take your right leg in the air” This is part of my standard warm up sequence thrown in for those type “A”s who need more than down dog as a rest pose. I continue “if you want to, take both legs in the air” Feathered Peacock the perfect rest pose for the overachievers (you know who you are).
SMOTWENDY was a small gathering this week. So I asked if there were any special request. It turned into a little impromptu inversion workshop. “I have never been upside down” one of our “secret” members confessed. “I thought when you said put your other leg in the air too, that you were joking.”
I am willing to guess that as a child she had been upside down. Didn’t they hold you upside down and slap your butt as a new born, back in the day? As adults though we, generally, never go upside down . Yogis are a bit of an exception course and with good reason, it feels so good. Like being a kid again only no one is smacking your behind:)
It is supposed to be good for you to invert. Not sure why. The body has evolved special arteries in the legs that ensure things work correct when we are the right way up. Presumably without this specialization the blood would collect in our feet and we would all walk around like we have diving boots on. Nothing above the heart is so equipped so when we invert the blood really does collect in the head. I am not a doctor, clearly, so why is an inversion good for you? Perhaps all the sludge collects in our feet over time and turning upside down mixes it up and flushes it out.
If you have not been upside down since the nurse held you up and pronounced “It’s a girl” it can be a daunting prospect. There are lots of options Headstand, Feather Peacock, handstand to name just a few. Well actually to name the few we practiced. All three can be approached in stages. In all stages the wall is your friend. Time to re-organize the house, good job we were on my home turf this week’s SMOTWENDY.
Stage 1 Find out if you have the shoulder strength. Poses like Dolphin build up the shoulder strengthen. Then try the Feathered Peacock or hand stand facing away from the wall but with one foot up it. The other lifted over headt into position. From here you can start to feel the weight and strength needed to hold you upside down.
A word of caution. One of the Yogis did this and moved on to stage 2 a little too early. Result – face plant. Don’t move to stage 2 until you are sure you can support your weight.
Stage 2 Full inversion using the wall for support. This time you are facing the all and kick your legs up towards it. The secret here is to not get to close to the wall. The body bends as we go upside down, so the wall is closer than you think. If you are too close you just bounce off.
Stage 3 Getting straight. Getting the body straightened turns the pose from a battle of strength to a relatively easy pose with the skeleton doing most of the work. Getting straight when you are upside is harder than you might think. It is really difficult to figure out which way to bend, what to tuck or tighten. Practice standing upright. When upside down try to reach the heels up to the ceiling.
Stage 4 Coming up with control. This mean using the abs and core to allow you to come upside down in a controlled manner. Practice headstand by walking the feet in close then bring the knees to the chest together and gradually straighten them to the full pose. For handstand jump up to a handstand but with the knees tucked into the tummy. Hold this pose before straightening the legs.
Stage 10 Inversion in the center of the room. You have been holding the inversion fine for weeks. Never needing the wall, never touching the wall. You are ready, you turn around and face away from the wall. Suddenly is a whole different pose. Sorry you are on your own for this stage. Maybe brush up on your Judo break falls before you try.
I have glossed over a lot of the details here of course, a workshop is definitely the way to learn. The results of our little workshop. One yogi went from 0 to handstand in 75 minutes.