Yoga strength with inversions: Pt 2!

yoga_Nov27_AAs we covered earlier this month, inversions are powerful yoga poses that can strengthen your muscles, inspiring balance and stability and reinvigorating your circulation and lymphatic system. Yoga inversions provide a great physical challenge that boosts energy and inspires relaxation. While certain inversions may prove strenuous, many poses are accessible to all levels of fitness and experience.

An inversion, where you head is lower than your heart, does not necessarily entail standing on your head. There are poses of varying degrees of difficulty. Here are three inversions which you might want to try, always checking with a medical and yoga practitioner that it is safe to do so given any injuries or health issues you may have.

Downward Facing Dog

This is perhaps the most well-known inversion in yoga and whilst not overly difficult to get into position, it is a strong pose to maintain and a real solid strengthener.

  • Start on all fours, making sure that your hands are firmly pressed into your yoga mat. Your upper arms and shoulders need to be rolled out and your forearms straight and slightly rolled in.
  • Inhale with a deep breath and as you exhale bring your hips up, starting to straighten your legs, keeping your back straight and pushing against the mat with your hands.Your body should look like an upside-down V.
  • Press your shoulder blades down as you lengthen your spine, as you bring your knees back to a straight leg position, if possible, with your feet slightly apart and facing forward and the soles of your feet and heels flat on the mat.
  • Make sure your fingers are slightly splayed and that you are putting your weight onto the firm grounded palm rather than on your wrists. Likewise, make sure your feet are parallel and hip-width apart.
  • Your hands need to be under your shoulders and keep your elbows from pinging out as this could put undue pressure on your elbow joint.
  • It is easy to lurch-forward and lose balance with this pose, so consciously move your weight from your arms through your hips, to create greater stability.
  • This inversion really stretches your hamstrings but be wary of overstretching or creating an unbalanced pose by trying to fight against tightness in this part of the leg. Instead, bend your knees slightly and shift your body into the correct posture, keeping a central square shape between your hands and feet.

The Hare

A far more relaxing and less challenging inversion, which can really lengthen and relieve pressure in the spine.

  • Start in a kneeling position with your hands resting lightly on your thighs, before raising your arms with the palms facing, being careful to keep the shoulders from hunching.
  • Breathe in deeply and as you slowly exhale bend forward with a smooth movement, so that the arms move forward and your forehead rest on the ground.
  • Turn your arms so that the palms rest on the mat as you stretch them out without pulling the neck muscles or tensing the shoulders and back.
  • Relax further into the pose by staying in position and breathing deeply, before drawing the arms in and gently curling the spine to get into your starting position.

Next week, we look at even more inversions for beginners and you can join our dynamic yoga sessions by getting in touch.

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