Inversion Tips from Graceful Yogi

Be brave. Most people like to use the wall to get comfortable with the structure of the pose and practice getting your hips over your shoulders. A note of caution, though: the wall can become a security blanket to the point that you can execute a pose next to the wall without touching the wall, but you can’t execute it in the middle of the room because you don’t have the wall for comfort. Once you start getting comfortable with the pose and using the wall less, get away from the wall and start practicing in the middle of the room. Falling down is encouraged! 
Exit strategies. if you feel your weight starting to get too far behind you, contract your abdominals to come out of the backbend a little and bring your feet back down to Dolphin, one at a time; if it’s too late for that, press down into your hands as if you’re pressing into handstand and let your feet come down behind you into Urdvha Danurasana. If you’re really falling down in a crazy direction and you’re headed for the floor, TUCK YOUR CHIN to protect your neck.
Building strength and muscle memory. Bakasana is a good arm balance to start getting used to bringing your weight forward over your hands and stacking your joints; it also builds great core strength and awareness.
Build strength in your shoulders and upper back. Swimming Dolphin: Start in Dolphin; on an exhale, shift forward bringing your heart over your hands but keeping your hips high; as you inhale, press back to Dolphin. Repeat at least 4x. This exercise is not very comfortable, so I like to actually imagine myself as a swimming dolphin in the ocean and put a big Flipper smile on my face. Sounds goofy, but it works!
Practice courage, get your hips over your shoulders. To practice getting your hips over your shoulders, try some 3-legged Dolphin hops: Start in Dolphin with your right leg lifted high like 3-legged Dog; start to shift forward over your forearms, rolling your left heel off the floor, working toward only the tip of your big toe on the ground. Remember to send energy out through your right toes to lengthen and lighten your whole body. Be sure to try it on both sides (it’s good to put these at the end of a vinyasa sequence so that you have a little rest between right side and left side). Once your comfortable with heel-raises, move on to hops. Start with the same action but as you roll the heel off the ground, press off through the ball of your foot and find a moment of balance before bringing your foot back to the floor. If you need a little momentum to find liftoff, you can bend your knee a little to give yourself an extra push toward lifting your foot off the floor.
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Michelle Chambers

I have always been in love with movement, using all of my being to express an emotion, an idea, a prayer. I did this through ballet for many years, until my body decided yoga was a better idea. I soon discovered that yoga was therapeutic not only for my aching back and joints, but also for my mind and even my soul. As I grew in my physical practice, I began to explore each asana as a means of expressing the love and gratitude in my heart. Inspired by this flow of grace, I completed a Vinyasa yoga teacher training with Silvia Mordini to share the freedom and joy of movement through the physical, mental, and spiritual practice of yoga. 
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One thought on “Inversion Tips from Graceful Yogi

  1. […] Yogi, who ‘graciously’ guest posted when I was away. You can read her inversion tips here, and her forearm stand tips […]


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