Monday, April 20, 2009


I love being upside down. I've been known to randomly kick up into a handstand in the middle of the sidewalk on Main Street. When I'm upside down, the world looks different. One of my best friends and I used to tell each other "go stand on your head" when we were in a foul mood. When your head is below your heart, you allow oxygenated blood to cleanse and refresh your brain. Serotonin levels, which are your feel-good chemicals, also increase. And there's just something really thrilling about finding the exact spot of balance where you are floating in the air, stable and strong, toes reaching for the clouds.

But lots of beginners have a lot of fear of inversions, which is perfectly normal. The biggest fear is that you'll fall over and hurt yourself. I remember getting so frustrated each time I would topple to the ground. If I was lucky, I could roll out gracefully. But most of the time, I would just crash to the floor in an awkward sideways thud. I know that I'm not making inversions sound very appetizing here, but the reality is that you probably will fall the first few times you try them, and that's ok. I have some suggestions to help get past those awkward beginning moments...

Build your foundation. Get stronger. I recently learned that the key to a good handstand is not necessarily in your shoulders, but in your ABS (engaging uddiyana bandha, or navel lock) and lifting up OUT of your arms. So I have been working to strengthen my tummy, and I'm starting to feel much lighter when I kick up there. We always warm up for forearm balance (Pincha Mayurasana) with a couple dolphins first, to help strengthen our arms and shoulders.

Practice with a wall. Balancing against a wall is an extremely useful tool to help you build up the strength in the appropriate muscle groups to be able to balance comfortably in inversions. It also helps you eliminate some of the fear because you have something there supporting you. It's kind of like using training wheels when you first learned how to ride a bike. You used them initially to get the feeling and build your confidence, and then you eventually took them off and rode solo!

In my opinion, the more you practice, the less scary inversions will be! It's kind of like my philosophy about being a new yoga teacher...the more I teach, the more comfortable I will get! So pick an empty wall in your house, and every time you walk by that wall, lift yourself up into an inversion and breathe...

One last thing: Be sure to rest in child's pose after practicing inversions to help balance out the blood in your head. I don't want anyone passing out from standing up too quickly!

How do you turn your frown upside down when you're in a funk?

Choose love,

1 comment:

  1. ...I love doing handstands too! I love the energy I feel when I come nice! (5-10 minutes of Shavasana always brightens me up...then seated forward bends...and seated wide-legged I calm down, I get happier!)