First Street Yoga Community News and Blog

ABCs of Upside Down

Why should a grown-up take the risk and trouble to go upside down? Handstands, cartwheels, hanging from your knees are all familiar movements from childhood but for most of us, as we age, we stay upright. And there is risk upside down. Weakness, lack of coordination and spinal problems can add real elements of danger. So why do it?

Because we can.

Learning to do difficult things expands our abilities and increases our range of options. Avoiding doing difficult things reduces our abilities and limits our options. When we learn to do a handstand, for example, we teach our arms to be sturdy and strong like legs. The upper back and shoulder area must learn to be firm and stable, yielding great benefits to normal posture. At the same time, we teach our mind equanimity, the ability to be calm and reasonable even when things look difficult and confusing. These are some of the first gifts we get from upside down.

Besides building strength and confidence, upside down poses are naturally calming. Really. When we put most of the body above the level of the heart, gravity assists the venous return of blood, easing the heart’s work. Our lungs work differently, too, as the postures allow more space in the rib cage and more blood to the upper lung tissues. Inverted poses are believed to be fortifying and beneficial for supporting a healthy immune system. The concentration that balancing requires helps focus and calm the mind.

This Sunday (2/19 1-4pm) I’ll be teaching the ABCs of Upside Down, a workshop designed to introduce inverted yoga asanas and how to practice them safely. We will spend some time on anatomy and physiology in order to understand the various dangers and how to avoid them. You will learn how to prepare your body to practice headstand and shoulderstand safely, and you will have the opportunity to work on these poses as appropriate. We will have  time to practice a variety of relaxing supported inversions as well.

Who should come? Students should be reasonably healthy (no congestive heart problems, serious eye problems, or untreated high blood pressure) and should have at least four months of alignment oriented yoga instruction. Beginners who are interested in moving on to L2 but are nervous about the inversions will particularly benefit from this workshop. More advanced students looking to refine their practice will learn different approaches and props to help their practice develop.

This small workshop will have plenty of opportunity for questions and for adapting the practice to suit the individual. These are some of my very favorite asanas and I am eager to share their discoveries. I hope you’ll join me!

To register, call or email. You are welcome to show up that afternoon and attend as space allows. Questions? Let me know. -Jane



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