When I first saw the notice for the inversions workshop, I was excited. But after I signed up and paid, I was nervous. When the day arrived and I was warming up on my mat, I was terrified! What if I was the worst one there? What if I fell on my face? What if I fell on my neighbor? So many fears.
I may very well have been the worst one there, but I did not fall on my face, nor did I fall on my neighbor. What I did do was find the strength to push myself further than I’d gone before.
Inversions are a powerful part of a yoga routine. However, for someone new to the practice, they can also seem the most elusive. Most of them require a strong core, strong arms and a lot of control. Whether you realize it or not though, inversions are part of your practice from day one. The most commonly used inversion: Downward Dog. What you are probably thinking of when you hear the term, though, is Handstand.
As a new yogi (only a year and a half into my practice, I really am still cutting my teeth), inversions have always held a special allure. From the moment I first used a wall to get upside-down, I was hooked.
Inversions get your blood flowing, giving you a boost of energy; they can relieve headaches, and help build shoulder muscles (a hard one for women). The benefits to turning your practice upside-down are numerous, but for me the biggest benefit was a new understanding and connection to my body. Going upside-down can be scary, it can feel unnatural at first, but when it works, it gives you a whole new awareness of what each part of your body is doing and how they work together.
That workshop, while rich in tips and guidance on proper positioning, was probably most useful for helping me realize that my biggest stumbling block is fear. I have work to do on my strength, of course, but what is really holding me back is this frame of mind that I am not balanced enough, experienced enough, or good enough to do this. This workshop reminded me that I can step outside of my comfort zone, and that if I keep trying, every time I will get closer, and one day that will be me “flying.”
After two and a half hours of trying different inversions with two dozen other yogis, I still hadn’t made it into handstand without assistance, but I felt strong and capable anyway. I learned I could do tripod stand, one I hadn’t even thought to try before, and that I could kick up into forearm stand easier than handstand (still need the wall but I’m getting up there!). With practice and time, I know I’ll get to handstand eventually. But by incorporating upside-down moments into my regular practice, I’m already reaping huge benefits.
A friend recently told me that since I started practicing yoga, he’s really watched me come into my own. By turning my practice upside-down, I can finally see that too.