Firstly I can’t believe I haven’t written this post before now. Obviously so much of my time is spent upside down, my brain got all shaken up and I forgot! This week I did a handstand session with the awesome Miguel Santana, who introduced me to his world of handstands, sharing his knowledge and techniques. We worked on everything from conditioning exercises for the core, how to place the fingers, head alignment and how to warm up your wrists to actually getting my standing on my hands.
I was on such a high after the session and was thinking about how much I enjoy being upside down, as some of you will know from following me on Instagram. I know that as an ex-gymnast I’m lucky to have got over the fear of being up the wrong way at a young age, but even if you feel a headstand, forearmstand or handstand isn’t quite within your reach, then just focus on other ways of inverting your body, like shoulder stands and even just having your legs placed up against the wall as you lie on your back. These slightly more simple postures still have all of the awesome benefits and are so worth spending time working on.
I’ve still got A LOT to work on when it comes to my inversions, but here are some of the benefits of headstands and all things upside down!
1. Energise the body – Getting upside down is such a great way to get your body buzzing if you’re feeling a little low… or as the yogis might say, lacking a bit of ‘prana’. Obviously always make sure you’ve warmed up properly, especially if going into some of the more advanced postures.
2. Build confidence – No matter where your start point is, there’s always further to go, having new versions of the inverted postures to explore. For me, each tiny step of progress I make just makes me feel mentally stronger and more confident.
3. Relax the mind – This one lends itself more to the shoulder stands and legs up the wall postures, as you can find a comfortable place within those poses where your mind can relax and focus on the breath. That being said, I actually find headstands rather relaxing, as I’m so focused on my body and breath, my mind isn’t able to think of any external worries.
4. Improve balance – Inversions are an amazing way to really work on your core strength, teaching yourself how to use your core properly, which therefore is what stabilises you.
5. Get a new perspective – In the literal sense, you look at the world from the opposite angle to usual, which can really help you see things a little differently, clear your mind of worry and energise your brain.
6. Increase immunity and prevent illness – The lymphatic system is key in keeping the body happy and healthy. Inversions help the flow of lymph around the body, collecting toxins and bacteria on its way, to be eliminated by the lymph nodes. Being upside down allows lymph to travel back into the respiratory system, where many of the toxins enter.
7. Improve blood circulation – Using gravity to increase the blood flow around the body is a simple and effective idea. We spend most of our lives either standing or sitting upright and then we head to bed where we spend 6-8 hours horizontal. Throwing an inversion into your daily yoga practice is a great way to shake up the blood flow.
8. It’s Fun – Yes, it’s fun! Even for those of you who are a little nervous or fearful to begin with, when you finally succeed after all that hard work, I promise you it really is such an amazing feeling.
Remember when practising inversions always make sure your body is warm and if you’re unsure in any way at all, speak to your yoga instructor before attempting the posture. Also, ladies, please refrain from doing inversions when you’re on your monthly cycle, as we need to let nature do it’s thing. 🙂
I’m currently doing my yoga teacher training with Yoga London and can’t wait to be officially qualified!
Love, Cat x