Tips for Performing Inverted Poses
- Inverted postures should be performed with utmost care and proper alignment.
- Use blankets under your shoulders in shoulder stand, and plow pose.
- Make sure the blankets are FLAT!
- Use a chair or the wall as support with plow or shoulder stand poses
especially if you have excess body weight, or stiffness in neck and shoulders.
- Use a flat blanket or yoga mat under your head for headstands.
- Do not kick into a headstand. If you need to kick, then this indicates that you are improperly
aligned, or have insufficient strength to perform the asana. Build up your abdominal muscles and keep stretching your neck and shoulders.
- Get accustomed to headstand by practicing tri-pod headstand position without lifting your legs.
- Do not "hang-out" in a headstand with your legs leaning against the wall. Touch the wall with your feet periodically to help with balance.
- When the vertebrae align (because the body is strong and ready) in a headstand the feet will naturally "float" up. Trust the float principle!
- Never perform a headstand on an unstable surface such as a bed, pillow or cushion!
- Do not perform inverted poses immediately after eating. Wait 2-4 hours after eating before inverting or practicing yoga.
- Beginners should hold the posture for a short time (under a minute) until there is no difficulty in maintaining the pose (1 minute or more).
The duration can be increased gradually over time.
- When using your forearms as the base of a headstand or forearm stand, make sure you start out with your elbows slightly closer than shoulder width apart.
Elbows have a tendency to slide out during these poses and this can cause instability.
- In a handstand pose, engage your legs, feet and inner thighs to lift upwards in the pose. Point your toes a lot.
- Use the wall when first attempting headstand, handstand, forearm stand and scorpion poses.
- Make sure to have a firm grip on your head in supported headstand pose. When the base of the pose is solid, the pose is steady!
- Inverted poses should be followed by a resting pose until your heartbeat and breath return to normal.
Child's pose is often suggested after a headstand. After resting in child's pose, return to an upright position like mountain pose (standing), or thunderbolt pose (kneeling).
- Do not practice near objects, furniture, or anything that could hurt you if you fell.
- I don't recommend closing your eyes during a headstand. Gaze to the floor in front of you, or at a point on the horizon.
- If you fall out of an inversion remember to keep your body relaxed.
- Use caution when practicing inversions if you have back or neck injuries, disc problems, or high blood pressure.
- Some theories suggest avoiding inversions if you have detached retina, severe narrow angle glaucoma, osteoporosis, excess weight, you are pregnant, or you are menstruating.
- If your eyes get bloodshot or you get broken blood vessels in your face after inverting, you may want to practice more gentle poses (downward dog, putting your legs up on a wall) until your body gets accustomed to inverting.