Practice Journal, Inversions

posted in: 2010 Practice Journal | 4

Fredonia NY October rose (ckg photo)

What is it about being upside down that causes such a rush? Is it the increased blood flow? Is it the heart rest? Is it because Mind rests more easily and fully when the legs are up? Is it more psychological: being upside down forces up to look at the world with a different perspective?

Last night I practiced inversions. Beginning with headstand (sirsasana) where I am still working at moving my legs away from resting upon the wall. This is a years loooong struggle for me.But it took me years to be able to kick up by myself, so the lesson is patience ~ and practice. Being in the unsettled throws of perimenopause, there are many weeks, or months where it is not advisable to practice inversions, so I grow frustrated at my lack of progress. And yet, every breath where my feet are not resting upon the wall I claim as personal victory… over what?  My body or my mind or a bodymind combo that seems intent upon keeping me earthbound when all my heart wants to do is to fly?

Three conscious breaths. That’s all I EVER need. No matter what posture I am inhabiting.

Then I did three pincha mayurasanas without kicking up. You may call these bent arm dogs. An attempt to strengthen my arms for the eventual day when I will be able to kick up! I am resolved to continue the practice, no matter how many years it takes. Then I did one half handstand where the shakes took over and I breathed through them, but then came down into child pose when I felt as if my feet where going to fall off the wall anyway. Can you relate?

Then shoulderstand (sarvangasana) wherein I found a perfect support system ~ ahhh, what joy when the body feels supported and can relax into a pose! I used four blankets folded in quarters and laid one upon the other in a stair step fashion to support my neck and two blankets folded half again laid side by side and angled at one end away from each other making a valley for the neck to drop into with the shoulders supported upon the blankets themselves. A chair placed at the end of my mat provided support for my feet during plough. My back is not feeling particularly strong these days so I scissor kicked one leg at a time down to the chair for ekapada sarvagasana.

I was surprised at the end of the practice that an hour and a half had flown by. All I’d done were four inversions!

A student said today that whenever she practiced legs up the wall, her Mind began to race.  Thanks, but no thanks she said when offered an eye bag. A sandbag placed upon a block with the end resting upon her forehead offered minimal relief. So during this  morning’s class I suggested she try lifting further into an inversion. She is slow and fearful of inversions, so we went for viparita karani with hips supported on a bolster and legs supported as well as ankles belted. Due to persistent hot flashes, we didn’t bother with a blanket tucked around her feet and legs. The set-up did bring her some relief, but we’ll continue working on her moving deeper into inversions. For savasana, I suggested some torso and head support with bolster and blanket.

I’d love to hear how you work inversions into your practice.

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4 Responses

  1. Carolyn-
    I am really enjoying your recent posts on your practice. Since Christmas, I’ve been attending classes at a nearby studio just about every other day. These are vinyasa flow style, and typically about 80% standing. While I really enjoy the focus and pure physical challenge of this type of practice, when I return to the mat at home, I find myself wanting to spend more time in the poses. This is particularly true of inversions.
    In my home practice I begin with standing poses, follow with floor work, and end with the Ashtanga closing sequence: Sarvangasana (15 breaths), Halasana (8), Karnapidasana (8), Urdhva Padmasana (8), Pindasana (8), Matsyasana (legs still in padmasana, 8), Uttana Padasana (8), and finally Sirsasana (30). This format (standing-seated-inversions) works well for me. Occasionally my practice consists of one long headstand and a few minutes in padmasana.

  2. I recommend a lot of core work to help you with your headstands. The stronger your abs and lower back are, the easier it will be to kick up and support yourself.
    .-= nothingprofound´s last blog .. =-.

  3. Sheila, Good to hear from you! sounds like you are “in the flow” with your practice. Wonderful 🙂 Thanks for sharing your practice. Wondering if you are doing much yoga nidra these days?

  4. Gotcha! Working on it!

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