Upside Down Poses for A Healthier You
reverse poses of our usual upright orientation are referred to
as inverted or upside down poses.
Some examples of inverted poses are: Downward-facing Dog, Standing Forward Fold,
Prasarita Padottanasana, Dolphin, Shoulder Stand, Headstand, and
Legs-up-the-wall Pose. Headstand and shoulder stand are referred to as the king
and queen of all yoga asanas. Headstand is referred to as the king of all poses,
while shoulder stand is referred to as queen of all poses.
The Inverted poses have a number of benefits
Focus and concentration become
heightened - both physically and mentally.
The inverted postures are very strengthening.
The shoulders, back, abdomen,
and legs work
especially hard (when done correctly), as they are learning to work against
gravity from the opposite direction.
Healthier and more effective lung tissue. When we invert, blood perfuses
the well-ventilated upper lobes of the lungs, thus ensuring more efficient
oxygen-to-blood exchange and healthier lung tissue.
Enhanced Circulation of blood. Because the blood carries in nutrients
and carries away waste, strong circulation is a very important part of good
Being upside-down flips around the internal and digestive organs. These
asanas are good for digestive troubles of any sort.
Inversions are very calming and energizing… you’ll come out of your
practice feeling confident, centered, stable, and ready to engage with the
world around you.
Enhanced Immunity: the lymphatic system is a closed pressure system and
has one-way valves that keep lymph moving towards the heart, when one turns
upside down, the entire lymphatic system is stimulated, thus strengthening
Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog):
Begin on your hands and knees. Your wrists should be underneath your
shoulders, and your knees underneath your hips.
Inhale as you tuck your toes under your heels. Then exhale to lift your hips,
coming into an upside down "V" shape called Downward Facing Dog.
Spread your fingers wide and create a straight line between your middle
fingers and elbows. Work on straightening your legs and lowering your heels
toward the ground. Your heels should be slightly wider than your toes, so
the outside edges of your feet are parallel with the outside edges of your
mat. Relax your head between your arms, and direct your gaze through your
legs or up toward your belly button. Work on holding for five breaths.
Interlace fingers to form a cup with palms. Place forearms and wrists on
a folded blanket.
Place crown of head on floor with slight emphasis of weight towards
Walk feet towards head and lift knees gently upward.
Straight legs extended.
Lengthen both sides of ribcage.
Tailbone extends towards heels.
Shoulder blades wide and floating towards kidneys to decompress neck.
Follow with Shoulder-stand or Child's
Always maintain a calm and even breath.
Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend)
Start standing in Tadasana (straight
in upright position), with feet together or hip distance apart. You may bend
your legs slightly if your muscles or your spine are really tight.
Inhale and raise your arms forward parallel and up to line alongside
your ears, with fingers pointing up and palms facing in. Exhale and bend
from your hips, stretching arms and torso forward to a tabletop position,
arms in line with your ears.
Hold for two or three breaths before stretching downward
on an exhalation. Keep arms alongside your ears and keep spine extended as
much as possible.
Place your hands wherever you can reach on your legs; if your can, take
hold of your ankles or place hands on the ground. Hold in this position for
two or three breaths.
On an exhalation, draw your head in toward your legs, using your arms to
assist you as your elbows open out to the sides and your spine rounds over
You can remain in this position for 30 seconds to one minute. The
beginners should not give more stress to any limb by stretching it for
Sarvangasana (shoulder stand)
To start with, lie flat on the floor. The arms should rest along the
sides, palms downwards. Exhale once, bend the knees, and bring them up
towards the chin till the thighs press the stomach. Breathe normally.
Now, exhale and supporting the buttocks with the hands, raise the trunk
till it becomes perpendicular to the floor. Now, your body will be supported
by the back of the head, the neck, the shoulders and the backs of the arms
up to the elbows. To push the trunk into the vertical position, you will
need to gradually move the hands towards the waist.
The head continues to rest on the floor, so that the trunk also becomes
perpendicular to the head. Once it is correctly perpendicular, the chin will
touch the chest.
Now, raise the legs and make them vertical, in line with the trunk, with
the toes pointing upwards. Breathe evenly, calmly and easily. Stay in the
pose for a few minutes and feel the good it is doing you.
To release the pose, gently move the legs downwards, release the hands
and let the body become flat again. You may also bring the legs down so that
the knees approach the ears, and then gradually bring the legs down. Be
gentle on your body. Never apply excessive stress. To start with, practice
the initial position, drawing the knees towards the chin.
Release the pose gently.
Makarasana (Dolphin Pose)
Come onto the floor on your hands and knees. Set your knees directly
below your hips and your forearms on the floor with your shoulders directly
above your wrists. Firmly press your palms together and your forearms into
Curl your toes under, then exhale and lift your knees away from the
floor. At first keep the knees slightly bent and the heels lifted away from
the floor. Lengthen your tailbone away from the back of your pelvis and
press it lightly toward the pubis. Against this resistance, lift the sitting
bones toward the ceiling, and from your inner ankles draw the inner legs up
into the groins.
Continue to press the forearms actively into the floor. Firm your
shoulder blades against your back, then widen them away from the spine and
draw them toward the tailbone. Hold your head between the upper arms; don't
let it hang or press heavily against the floor.
You can straighten your knees if you like, but if your upper back rounds
it's best to keep them bent. Continue to lengthen your tailbone away from
the pelvis and lift the top of your sternum away from the floor.
Stay between 30 seconds to one minute. Then release your knees to the
floor with an exhale.
Viparita Karani-Legs up the wall :
Said to reverse the normal downward flow of a precious subtle
fluid called amrita (immortal)
For your support you'll need one or two thickly folded blankets or a
firm round bolster. You'll also need to rest your legs vertically (or nearly
so) on a wall or other upright support.
Before performing the pose, determine two things about your support: its
height and its distance from the wall. If you're stiffer, the support should
be lower and placed farther from the wall; if you're more flexible, use a
higher support that is closer to the wall. Your distance from the wall also
depends on your height: if you're shorter move closer to the wall, if taller
move farther from the wall. Experiment with the position of your support
until you find the placement that works for you.
Start with your support about 5 to 6 inches away from the wall. Sit
sideways on right end of the support, with your right side against the wall
(left-handers can substitute "left" for "right" in these instructions).
Exhale and, with one smooth movement, swing your legs up onto the wall and
your shoulders and head lightly down onto the floor. The first few times you
do this, you may ignominiously slide off the support and plop down with your
buttocks on the floor. Don't get discouraged. Try lowering the support
and/or moving it slightly further off the wall until you gain some facility
with this movement, then move back closer to the wall.
Your sitting bones don't need to be right against the wall, but they
should be "dripping" down into the space between the support and the wall.
Check that the front of your torso gently arches from the pubis to the top
of the shoulders. If the front of your torso is flat, then you've probably
slipped a bit off the support. Bend your knees, press your feet into the
wall and lift your pelvis off the support a few inches, tuck the support a
little higher up under your pelvis, then lower your pelvis onto the support
Lift and release the base of your skull away from the back of your neck
and soften your throat. Don't push your chin against your sternum; instead
let your sternum lift toward the chin. Take a small roll (made from a towel
for example) under your neck if the cervical spine feels flat. Open your
shoulder blades away from the spine and release your hands and arms out to
your sides, palms up.
Keep your legs relatively firm, just enough to hold thighs vertically
in place. Release the heads of the thigh bones and the weight of your belly
deeply into your torso, toward the back of the pelvis. Soften your eyes and
turn them down to look into your heart.
Stay in this pose anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes. Be sure not to twist
off the support when coming out. Instead, slide off the support onto the
floor before turning to the side. You can also bend your knees and push your
feet against the wall to lift your pelvis off the support. Then slide the
support to one side, lower your pelvis to the floor, and turn to the side.
Stay on your side for a few breaths, and come up to sitting with an
suffering from high
detached retina, glaucoma,
hernias, cardiovascular disease, cervical spondylitis,
thrombosis, arteriosclerosis, and kidney problems should not
practice headstand. Those suffering from neck injuries should
seek advice from an experienced yoga teacher before beginning to
practice headstand. It is advisable for women during
menstruation to avoid inversions.
Dated 11 December 2012