Upside Down

Upside Down_art.jpg

Inverted positions in Yoga

How many of you started practicing yoga after seeing a picture of someone doing a headstand (Sirsasana) or handstand (Adho Mukha Vrksasana),  fascinated by the balance and focus of those practicing them? And how often, at the very introduction of a beginner’s course, yoga teachers are asked by students if they’re going to teach them to go upside down?

Probably a good chunk of readers can find some truth in these words. Inversion asanas are fascinating, full of symbolism and a pleasure to execute. From an anatomical perspective, body polarity changes, what’s usually on top goes at the bottom and vice versa; shoulders, neck, arms strengthen, hips are released and internal organ tone up; also blood circulation can benefit for them, thanks to the venous return to the heart.

From a symbolic point of view, inversions signify a change of our perspective when observing the world and ourselves and they’re also about letting go of material worries, whereas for Tantra, inversions is also about the connection  of feminine and masculine to reach a higher awareness (although developing awareness does not certainly end with asana practice!)

However, the attraction we feel towards this family of asana is often threatened by fear. Fear of injury, of breaking our neck, fear of fracturing a wrist or,  to put it simply, fear of losing control of our own body.

Some shallow fear may hide a deeper discomfort; the more we are rooted in our beliefs the greater resistance we’ll experience in letting go of them, in accepting and welcome a different perspective from our own. Of course, to have a strong body helps, although a person who only lives by his/her own “Black or White” rules, and who prefers to avoid defeat than face it, will probably encounter the same difficulties than a beginner in approaching inverted asanas.

Allowing ourselves to be vulnerable is wonderful, as it is falling and getting back up, stronger and freer than ever before. Letting go means to get closer to the divine within ourselves, judgement boundaries dissolve whenever there’s freedom and the asana simply becomes a “tool” to expand our awareness. Letting go means also not to get attached to a specific asana but rather enjoy the journey, enjoy the present moment, allowing ourselves to really feel our body and beyond.

Social media are an endless library of tutorials and tips to master the perfect headstand, hence in this post we purposefully avoided to preach “the handstand in 4 steps” and stuff like that. The only advice we feel like giving is to take it slowly, avoid rushing, avoid wasting energies to protect your own comfort zone and appreciate that nothing can really hurt us, victory and defeat are just a shallow part of our lives and we can live very well even if we can’t do a headstand ☺

In fact, inverted asanas are not just the headstand or the handstand; inverted asanas are many and most of them may be practiced with many benefits by anyone (to avoid in case of glaucoma, high eye pressure, and other eye related illnesses)

The plough pose (Halasana) is too an inversion as it is Salamba Sarvangasana (shoulder stand) and Downward facing dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana), although for Instagram purposes, they are often left out as not enough exciting or choreographic. But that’s exactly the point: practicing yoga is not a race with ourselves, to see how far we can get, practicing yoga is a daily discovery to find out that what there is it’s exactly how it should be.

alessandra quattordio