Turn Your Practice Upside Down: A Yogi’s Guide to Inversions

How to do it, why you should, and the secrets to making inversions less scary, more stable, and a ton of fun
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I love inversions. Considering most of our lives are spent with our heads held high, legs below, reversing this arrangement feels like a refreshing change of pace. Plus, it’s got lots of benefits. For starters, inversions build upper-body strength, balance, and confidence, and they prompt you to see the world from a new perspective (literally!). Moving into postures where your head is lower than your heart also helps to prevent lymphatic fluid from pooling in your legs (a result of our upright lives), while increasing circulation to your brain—a combo that instantly boosts energy. Then, there’s the fact that inversions can be just plain fun. They give us an opportunity to get a little playful with our practice and not take ourselves so seriously.

Of course, I understand that not everyone loves going upside down. Some inversions can be frightening, especially at first. It takes a lot of strength—and trust in that strength—to stand on your own two hands or forearms. But with the right instruction, there’s a good chance you’ll find yourself looking forward to going upside down and feeling more self-assured once you get there.

Practice these five inversions in the order that they appear, holding each as long as you can before your form begins to suffer. (If you have a neck injury, epilepsy, eye problems, a heart condition, or high blood pressure, talk to your doc beforehand.) I hope these inspire a new outlook on your practice—and your life.