Inversion Poses

Yoga Poses – Inversion

Yoga inversion poses are Asanas (yoga poses) where feet are raised above the head like headstand (Salamba Sirsasana) or shoulder stand (Salamba Sarvangasana). Practicing inversion poses helps us to see our world in a different angle, an angle that we hardly see; upside down.

The concept behind inversion poses is expressed in yoga texts as Viparita Karani, meaning “opposite process”, which simply means facilitating a different perspective.

Physically, our body is normally supported by our legs and feet but during inversion poses, our body is supported by our hands or/and head. In addition to that, this exercise is more than just a physical change in direction. It also increases our ability to adapt to change instead of being stuck in our everyday habitual state, which increases our capacity for growth and transformation.

handstand-adjustment 

Health Benefits of Inversion Poses:

a) it reverses the blood flow in the body and improve circulation as it uses gravity to provide the brain with more oxygen and blood, thus increasing mental functioning, and improving concentration and memory.

b) it gets more blood moving to the brain, which results not only in physical invigoration but mental revitalization as well.

c) it increases core strength: shoulders and arms-especially for women who tend to be stronger in the lower body, inversions create body balance by developing upper body strength. To hold a straight headstand for an extended period of time, we must engage the obliques, the rectus abdominus and the transverse abdominus.

headstand-pose

d) inversions stimulate and provide refreshed blood to the pituitary and hypothalamus glands. These glands are vital to our well-being and they also regulate all other glands in the body(thyroid, pineal and adrenals).

e) any fluid that is retained in the feet is able to drain(edema), therefore reducing the onset and prevalence of varicose veins.

f) inversions increase digestive fire and body heat. The intestines are cleansed by reversing the pull of gravity, while releasing congested blood to the colon.

Experiencing the inverted yoga poses personally have progressively amazed me. While I could manage the Halasana(plow pose) and Salamba Sarvangasana (shoulder stand), each time the experience seems to differ: holding the pose while doing the Ujayi breathing and gazing at the right spot all at the same time. And each time the pose becomes more comfortable with more practice.

While I was struggling to get my legs up the in air for Salamba Sirsasana the 1st week of the course, the 2nd week had successfully lifted my legs off the ground(while against the wall). Now that it’s coming to the 3rd week, I’m looking forward to hold this pose without the wall and stay longer at it!

Samantha Loh
200hr weekday
March-April 2014

What has happened to Yoga now?

Yoga, traditionally, is an individual practice. Even if the yogi is to learn from a Guru, the guru will not spoon feed you and tell you instructions on how to do the asanas or pranayama. For Ashtanga Yoga, in Mysore (a place in India), no instructions are given during the asana (yoga poses) practice. Practitioners are do perform a set of about 70+ yoga poses in a continuous flow, and the guru will adjust and correct.
It is a quiet practice. All you hear is the sound of oceanic breaths, called Ujjayi breathing, plus the sounds of landing on the feet from an uncontrolled practitioner. Sometimes the rhythm of the breaths can be so mesmerizing, that brings you into a calm mode, amidst the challenging asanas.
The most important thing of the asana practice is to go inward, focusing on your breath, gaze and bandha (lock), which is 180 degrees different from what is happening currently in the common Yoga classes in Singapore and the region.
Yoga is to help you go inwards.
In most gyms and fitness centres, Yoga became a dance or aerobics dancing class, where you have huge mirrors and music. Plus a nanny Yoga instructor who nags at you, instructing you specifically what to do. For students who doesn’t use their ears, they rely on a Yoga demonstrator to perform all the yoga poses and they follow. When there is no demonstration, they become lost.
The mirrors can be very distracting as you will find yourself staring at yourself half the time, and the other half the time, looking at other people, comparing yoga poses, are you the best or worst.
Do the students learn anything from that monkey see monkey do ‘yoga’ class? No! (Only a few intelligent ones do) Basically, they don’t use their brain to remember or recall anything. They awareness may not be in their own body to remember the bodily positions that they have held 1 hour ago. There may be too many postures done for beginners to remember the whole sequence. (Sometimes, this is the trick used by more Yoga instructors, so that their students can keep coming back, instead of letting them go for their individual practice. Show them 1000 moves so that they don’t recall any single move)
This ‘Yoga’ brings your attention outwards.
I find that this is not the proper way to teach Yoga. This is very misleading and because of publicity and marketing, common man choose to believe that the ‘Yoga’ is the right way to go. I want to clear up the misunderstanding as much as possible, therefore, we came up with this program:
Yoga for Self practice course (click the link for more details)
This is the most value for money investment that you can make for your own health. The course is not cheap, cheap things cannot be good. If you were to compare this investment to the time taken you need to travel from your house to a yoga studio, the class fees you have to pay, the transport cost, the time taken to travel from yoga studio to work place for 1 year, this course is definitely worth it. What’s most important is to learn the right things and not to damage your body.
That’s all for now. Time for me to go inward.