Inversion poses involve any asanas that lift the feet above the head. Other inversion poses that are well known include shoulderstand (salamba sarvangasana) and half shoulderstand (viparita karani); but even lying on the floor with your legs up the wall is an inversion pose. The concept behind inversion poses is expressed in yoga texts as viparita karani. Viparita karani is translated as meaning ‘opposite processes. This means facilitating a different perspective. From the purely physical point of view, this different perspective in inversion poses is literal – in terms of looking at the world from a different physical viewpoint – as well as involving the body being supported in a different way.
Yoga is more than simply physical exercises, there are other processes that are assisted. Yoga is designed to help us change mental habits as well as physical habits. Through increasing our ability to adapt to change, instead of being stuck in old habitual responses, we increase our capacity for growth and transformation. This applies in all areas of our lives.
There is a theoretical concept in yoga about why inversion postures help. Ayurveda considers that many of the body’s impurities are in the lower abdomen. When we raise our feet above the head, gravity is assisting us to move these impurities towards what the Ayurvedic system calls agni, or ‘fire’. Agni particularly relates to our ‘digestive fire’, and is thus located above our lower abdomen. So, by being upside down, and by using the deep and slow breathing typical of yoga, we help ‘burn off’ the impurities that were previously stuck. Improved circulation is a more readily apparent and less ‘esoteric’ benefit of inversion yoga poses.
Although inversion postures have many health benefits, the ability to receive those benefits depends as much on one’s capacity to comfortably hold these sometimes difficult postures. For example, headstand and shoulder stand should not be done by women who are pregnant, those who have neck pain, high or low blood pressure, neck injuries, or are menstruating. Neither of these postures should be attempted without the appropriate preparatory postures. Otherwise the risk of injury, or stiffness, particularly to the neck area, will result. Likewise, if doing these postures is uncomfortable or difficult, one should practice the modified versions, or simply work on other yoga poses that strengthen these areas.
Tips for Doing Inverted Postures
For Half Shoulder stand:
* Lengthen the exhale
* don’t lock the chin
* Keep your weight not on the head but on the wrists and elbows
* Don’t try to pull your torso (and legs) vertical like in full shoulder stand if you have difficulties with your neck. By doing so, you’re placing more pressure on your neck.
* Make sure you do the appropriate balancing postures afterwards. These include shalabhasana and bhujangasana
* Don’t worry so much about keeping your elbows and arms parallel. This will create more tension in your neck if you’re not proficient in this posture.
* Do the appropriate balancing postures. These are the same as for half shoulder stand.
* Don’t ever make adjustments whilst in headstand. If you feel your alignment is not quite right, come down and do it again.
* Never do this posture first up, or without the prerequisite postures. It will lead to stiffness in the neck at best, and injury at worst.
This posture is never done traditionally without preparation.
* Use a wall for support as a learning stage
* Support your head with all of your fingers, including the little fingers and thumbs
* Finding the right position for your head will make sure weight is distributed evenly, and ensure you don’t have to overly press down with your elbows to compensate
* Don’t hold your weight too much on the back of your body. It will place too much pressure on your neck.
* Rest your neck before doing the balancing postures, however. Lie down with your legs bent.
* Other balancing postures include chakravakasana, dvipada pitham with the arms, and shalabhasana
There may be fears or a sense of limitation about doing inversion poses that will be confronted. Sometimes, it’s best to start an asana gradually. Most inversion poses offer variations that one can use to build up strength and flexibility, as well as overcome any fear based feelings about the posture and the ability to do it.
*Caution: Do NOT attempt any of these poses if you suffer from neck or shoulder pain/injury. Always seek the advice of your physician prior to beginning any yoga regimen. Remember to practice within your own comfort level as well as, only attempt these poses once you have warmed up.
Stretching the muscles before any exercise (including yoga) is key to a safe experience, and yet the ankles are often ignored; interesting, considering an ankle sprain is the most common type of sports injury. Many yoga poses can help protect the ankles, increasing strength, balance and flexibility so sprains are less likely to occur. Here are 4 yoga poses for the ankles:
Mountain pose is a standing pose that strengthens the ankles, knees and thighs, while also reducing flat feet. To get into the pose, start with your feet close together, your heels just barely apart. Lift your toes and spread them out onto the floor, distributing your weight evenly on the inner and outer sections of your feet. Drop your tailbone toward the floor, slide your shoulder blades down your back, and let your arms hang strongly by your sides with your palms facing forward. Hold the pose for 30 seconds to one minute.
Lotus pose is a sitting pose that stretches both the ankles and the knees. If you have tight hips, you may wish to prepare for the pose by bringing your knee up toward your armpit and rotating it around a few times. Start sitting evenly on your sit bones with your legs out in front of you. Place your left foot on top of your right thigh, and your right foot on top of your left thigh, keeping your heels close to your abdomen and the soles of your feet facing upward. The knees should touch the floor (use yoga blocks, yoga bolsters, or pillows under the knees if necessary to take any strain off the knee joints. Hold the pose for a few seconds. After you have tried the pose a few times, hold for one minute.
*Modify this pose as seen in the picture. Careful as not to put pressure or strain on the knees especially if you have any knee problems.
Also called a yogic squat, garland pose stretches the ankles while also toning the abdomen. To get into the pose, squat down on the floor with your feet about hip-width apart. Your feet should face outward at about a 45-degree angle. If you can't keep your heels pressed to the floor, put a folded mat or blanket under them. Your knees should face the same direction as your ankles to prevent possible injury. Press your hands together in prayer position as you press your elbows into your knees and lift your heart upward. Hold the pose for 30 seconds to one minute.
Hero pose is a sitting pose that stretches and strengthens the ankles. Start in a kneeling position with your feet a little more than hip distance apart and the tops of your feet pressing down on the floor. Sit down on the floor between your feet and slide your shoulders down your back. If you can't comfortably sit on the floor, place a yoga block under your buttocks (as seen in the picture) for support. Sit up straight, with your sternum lifted, and rest your hands on top of your thighs. Hold the pose for 30 seconds to one minute. You may eventually wish to hold the pose for as long as five minutes.
Yoga is one of the best aerobic exercises that can be done on a regular basis. It is beneficial for to the body, mind and soul. Although some men prefer sweaty, energetic workouts, yoga can be very challenging and can provide a holistic workout along with innumerable health benefits. Apart from enhancing fitness levels, yoga also increases stamina levels and is a great exercise regimen for men of all ages and all fitness levels. To help men build a stronger base for their gym exercises, decrease stiffness and increase stamina, the yoga poses mentioned below can go a long way.
Standing Forward Fold
Uttanasana, or Standing Forward Fold, opens the back of the legs, the hips and the back. Men can easily modify this pose by keeping the hands on the thighs, calves or ankles or use blocks to shorten the distance.
In addition to stretching muscles, Standing Forward Fold lowers blood pressure, eases headaches, improves circulation and helps you sleep better.
This posture stretches men where they need it most—the hips and shoulders. On top of opening these tight areas, Virabhadrasana is a strengthening posture. It builds the muscle of the thighs along with the areas around the knees, which means more stability and protection for sensitive joints during high impact sports.
Chair pose works the quads, ankles, butt and shoulders, while also opening the chest—helping to develop greater stability. It’s also useful for improving flat feet and stimulating the abdominal organs.
Downward Facing Dog
Downward Dog, or Adho Mukha Svanasana, brings the attention to those tight areas in men; the hamstrings, calves, arms, shoulders, back, hips and more. And while it stretches the body, Down Dog also strengthens the arms and legs.
This pose also strengthens the heart as it improves circulation, reduces stress and helps high blood pressure.
Low Cobra Pose
Cobra pose can help to open the chest and strengthen the back and arms. This posture will help anyone who sits behind a desk all day by opening the abdomen and hip flexors.
*For men who also enjoy more strenuous forms of exercise, Upward Facing Dog is another great way to warm up and get the muscles stretched and blood flowing before expecting the body to go all out.
Boat Pose (modified)
Boat pose, or Navasana, will not only strengthen the core, but it also strengthens the hips flexors and spine. This posture is particularly beneficial to men for what it does to stimulate the prostate gland and reduce tension in the pelvic region.
Baddha Konasana increases blood flow to the pelvis, kidneys, prostate and bladder. It’s also a good way to draw attention to mula bandha, the root lock, which brings awareness and more energy to the area around the hips.
This posture is can be quite challenging, but you can ease yourself into it as your hips open more and more. Since it’s a powerful way to open the glutes, hamstrings, abductors and hip flexors, Half Pigeon can help men when they take part in physical activities. Once the tension is released in the hips, men will feel the benefit in the lower back and other areas of the body.
It’s not unusual for men to experience tight muscles throughout the torso, so Bridge pose can help open the upper body and release tight muscles. Whether most men realize it or not, tightness in this area makes for shallow breathing and can make other physical activities more challenging.
Over time, practicing bridge pose will create more space in the chest and make for easier, fuller breathing.
Reclining Hand to Big Toe
This posture opens the lower back to get energy moving more freely, and when it does, it also stimulates the prostate gland and improves digestion. *Try using a yoga strap to make the pose easier especially if you’re not quite flexible.
Now it’s time to really relax. As the asana suggests, you simply lay on your back, eyes closed with your hands at your sides or on your chest. Breathe normally and let your worries dissipate as you exhale.
Yoga can be very challenging and mastering these yoga poses will help strengthen and stretch the muscles, prevent workout injuries and improve posture and overall balance.
Yoga іѕ аn age-оld practice оf traditional physical аnd mental disciplines frоm India. Althоugh thеrе іѕ no physical evidence thаt саn claim how long thе principles оf yoga have existed, early archaeological evidence depicts thаt thе stone seals оf yoga asanas (оr poses) have bееn аrоund since 3,000 B.C. In today's world, yoga has made thе journey асrоѕѕ thе entire world аnd earned іtѕ glory. Many western cultures have adopted yoga аѕ а part оf thеіr daily physical regimen аnd reaped thе benefits аѕ wеll. Aѕ thеrе аrе many yoga poses аnd postures thаt аrе performed аt different physical levels, lеt's take а look аt one оf thе advanced poses; Bird оf Paradise pose. Thіѕ pose, along wіth оthеr advanced yoga poses, іѕ extremely effective іn increasing flexibility, flushing toxins frоm thе body, increasing lubrication іn joints, ligaments аnd tendons, massaging аll thе organs, toning thе muscles, аnd muсh more.
How the Pose іѕ done
If уоu'rе а beginner іn yoga, proceed with caution and modify when trying this pose. This pose іѕ taught lаtеr, іn more advanced levels оf yoga. Fоr thоѕе whо have been practicing yoga for a while аnd have tried various yoga postures, can attempt this pose. Bеfоrе beginning, уоu'll need а yoga mat, comfortable clothing, а strap fоr thе bind, аnd warm-up the body with stretching prior to beginning thе pose. Here are 5 steps to getting into Bird of Paradise pose:
Step 1: Thе first thing аbоut yoga іѕ thаt уоu have tо keep breathing normal. Sо dоn't forget tо do ѕо іn thіѕ powerful аnd challenging pose. Place thе yoga mat оn thе floor аnd stand wіth уоur feet part. Keep іt араrt аѕ muсh аѕ уоu саn (bеуоnd shoulder length). Keep уоur feet turned оut аnd bend уоur right leg іn thе right direction, but keep уоur thigh parallel tо thе floor аnd уоur knee ѕhоuldn't go bеуоnd уоur right foot.
Step 2: Place уоur right elbow оn thе right knee аnd keep уоur left arm stretched оut аnd оvеr уоur head. Breathe аѕ deeply аѕ уоu саn bесаuѕе іt helps уоu stretch very easily. Now take thе bind іn уоur right hand аnd bring thе left arm bеhіnd, towards thе bасk. Thе right arm (whісh has thе bind) wіll go аnd meet thе left arm frоm bеtwееn уоur legs. Hold thе bind wіth bоth ends.
Step 3: Bring уоur right shoulder tо point towards thе floor аnd thе left shoulder opens uр. Gaze оvеr thе left shoulder towards thе ceiling. Keep breathing normally. Bоth thе hands wіll keep holding thе bind аnd оnlу thе lower body wіll change position. Bring уоur right leg іn, whіlе placing thе left leg firm оn thе yoga mat. Slowly make thе transition аnd try nоt tо lose уоur balance оr leave thе bind. Keep уоur right hand bеtwееn уоur legs аnd do thе switch wіth thе legs.
Step 4: Keep уоur legs shoulder width араrt аnd lift уоur right heel uр (keeping thе ball оf уоur right foot still оn thе floor). Slowly lift уоur entire right leg off thе yoga mat, breathe normally, аnd try tо balance уоur body weight оn thе left leg. Wіth уоur hands still іn thе bind, lift уоur right leg аѕ high аѕ уоu саn. Straighten thе right leg tо thе right side аnd hold thе pose.
Step 5: Keep уоur knees straight аnd relax уоur shoulders. Stand аѕ tall аѕ possible аnd keep breathing normally. Slowly bring уоur right leg down аnd unlock уоurѕеlf frоm thе bind. Voila, уоu have successfully completed thе pose. Now іt's time tо perform thе same thing оn thе оthеr side.
Whіle уоu'rе executing thе bird оf paradise pose, make sure уоu plant bоth уоur feet оn thе yoga mat аt thе time оf thе transition. Each step requires а sense оf balance аnd flexibility.
*Caution: Practice this pose with extreme care. Don’t lift the leg higher than you should as you may cause injury to the hip or groin area. Modify this pose by keeping the knee bent and/or use a yoga strap for the bind (as seen in the picture).
Chaturanga Dandasana (Four-Limbed Staff Pose or Low Plank) is one of the most challenging yoga poses done in every vinyasa and Sun Salutation often rushed through and done incorrectly. When done correctly, this challenging yoga pose has several benefits, including arm, wrist and abdomen strengthening. When practiced without proper alignment, Chaturanga can lead to shoulder, elbow, wrist and even lower back injuries.
Because Chaturanga Dandasana is a weight-bearing pose, wrist injuries are among the most common. Sometimes in yoga, we tend to use our strongest muscles to achieve difficult poses, instead of using the appropriate muscles. While in Chaturanga, many yoga students flatten their carpal tunnel, the narrow, tunnel-like structure in the wrist where several tendons and the median nerve pass, causing compression on the median nerve. Repetitive practice of this incorrect motion can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome.
Chaturanga is a pose that uses all of the muscles in the body. To keep your body safe from injury, use your core for stabilization and activate your legs for support. While learning proper alignment and building strength,modify this pose by dropping to your knees (This decreases the weight on your back and shoulders, therefore you don’t need as much strength to do the pose as with your legs straight).
Here are some tips for a safe Chaturanga Dandasana:
Hopefully, this information will help you with your Chaturanga and keep you injury free. Remember that you can always modify the pose or skip it altogether.
This 30 minute sequence is for those that are “time-challenged”. Start with a few rounds of Sun Salutation to warm-up the body. A shorter yoga practice is a great place to start as a beginner (or anyone else with time constraints) without feeling too overwhelmed and thus more likely to make the practice of yoga a daily habit. It is much easier to find 15 to 30 minutes of a yoga practice than it is 90 minutes, which is often hard to do. The most important thing to remember is that this is your practice!
Modify poses when needed and always enjoy your time spent on the mat!
It’s that time of year again when the weather begins to change and the temperatures get much colder. As most people spend more time indoors, the susceptibility of catching a cold rises. You have to drink plenty of fluids, get lots of rest and take the regular cold remedies, but practicing yoga during your cold or flu can also help get over your cold faster. Get on your yoga mat, but remember to take things slowly and rest when you feel like you need to rest. Remember that yoga poses for cold and flu should be easy and relaxing poses.
Here are a few yoga poses for cold sufferers:
Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana): Brings energy to the head and respiratory area; helps clear the sinuses.
Supported Bridge Pose (Salamba Setu Bandhasana): Opens up the chest and increases circulation to the upper torso.
Legs up the Wall Pose (Viparita Karani): Brings energy to the groin and opens the chest area to facilitate breathing.
Supported Bound Angle Pose (Salamba Baddha Konasana): Opens the chest, abdomen, and groins; relaxes the nervous system.
Reclining Twist (Modified Jathara Parivartanasana): Releases physical and stress-based tension.
Widespread Forward Bend (Upavistha Konasana): Quiets the internal organs; relaxes the mind.
Corpse Pose (Shavasana, Savasana): Most helpful with a towel roll placed from the lower spine to head to open up your breathing.
*The most important thing in practicing yoga while you’re sick is to wait until you are past the worst stages (or first few days) and regaining some of your energy. Always consult with your physician prior to beginning any yoga practice.
An inversion is any asana in which the head is below the heart; and while Headstand, Handstand, Forearm Stand and Shoulder Stand may come to mind, there are gentler variations that may be more accessible for beginners: Downward Dog, Standing Forward Folds, Legs Up the Wall and Happy Baby are great asanas to start with prior to trying some of the aforementioned poses. The popularity of yoga аll оvеr thе world іѕ due tо thе numerous health benefits associated wіth іt.
Yoga helps іn improving both thе physical and mental strength, as well as enhancing flexibility; thus maintaining оvеrаll health. Secondly, yoga іѕ one оf thе best аnd thе most effective stress reducing techniques. Along wіth meditation, yoga іѕ аlѕо used tо improve concentration. In the case оf yoga inversion, thе head іѕ аt thе base, аnd half thе lower body оr thе entire lower body іѕ аbоvе thе head. Thіѕ way, thе heart іѕ аbоvе thе head. Yoga inversions can sometimes seem to be difficult tо perform whеn compared tо other yoga postures.
Health Benefits оf Inversions іn Yoga
Wіth yoga inversions оr inverted yoga, thе principle of gravity and body's relationship tо іt іѕ changed. Thіѕ helps іn treatment оf several diseases аnd disorders. Thе following аrе ѕоmе оf thе uses оr health benefits оf inverted yoga.
Inversions іn yoga helps іn improving blood circulation. Whеn thе body іѕ upside down, thе heart pumps blood vigorously whісh leads tо increase оf oxygen supply tо thе brain. Thеrеfore, thеrе іѕ а proper blood circulation tо all parts оf thе body. Thіѕ helps іn treatment аnd prevention оf diseases caused due tо poor blood circulation like varicose veins, еtс. Along wіth blood circulation, thе flow оf internal fluids іѕ stimulated due tо thе upside down position. Thіѕ helps іn cleansing аnd detoxifying thе body. Yoga inversions help іn clearing lactic acid built uр іn thе body. Due tо thе inverted position, thе lactic acid gets flushed оut, whісh helps іn treating muscles cramps аnd pain.
Aѕ mentioned аbоvе, inverted yoga may be difficult tо perform. Hоwеvеr, just like strength training, inverted poses help іn toning muscles оf arms, legs and abdomen. Inversion yoga benefits аlѕо include treatment аnd prevention оf bасk pain. Pinched nerves аnd compressed discs аrе ѕоmе оf thе most common causes оf bасk pain іn people. Thеѕе discs саn bе separated by the practice of inverted yoga poses. Thеrе іѕ also аn increased flow оf blood іn thе brain due tо inverted positions. Thіѕ brings аbоut а calming effect аnd саn help іn reducing stress.
Althоugh thеrе аrе а large number оf benefits to inverted yoga, іt іѕ recommended thаt уоu consult your doctor bеfоrе trying them. Thеѕе postures аrе difficult аnd ѕhоuld bе avoided bу people having high blood pressure оr оthеr chronic disorder, аnd bу women during thеіr monthly periods. Hоwеvеr, іf followed properly аnd under thе guidance оf a doctor and an experienced yoga teacher, inverted yoga can rеаllу prove tо bе very beneficial. Take care! 😊
“You would think it goes without saying, but too many of us simply don’t maintain good posture, which is critical for a healthy spine,” says Dr. Kenneth Hansraj, an orthopedic and spinal surgeon and author of Keys to an Amazing Life: Secrets of the Cervical Spine. Your spine has curves to maintain alignment and assist in stability and mobility of your spine. Through structural problems and poor posture, these curves can become excessive. Excessive curvature of the spine can lead to discomfort, like back pain and headaches. Over time, either through bad habits like slumping over a computer all day, staring down at your cell phone, or aging, you lose flexibility in your spine. You can slow down the progress and even reverse the effects of inflexibility by practicing yoga poses that loosen your spine from neck to tailbone.
So how can one achieve this mind/body balance to help maintain a healthy spine? While good posture remains one of the best for good spine health, certain yoga poses not only strengthen the muscles that support the spine, but they also relieve stress which can release some pressure or strain from the spine. In addition, breathing and meditation exercises help release stress and tension that add to spinal problems.
Practicing the above yoga poses can help to strengthen the spine. Remember, your spine has your back 😊.
* Always consult your chiropractor or primary care physician prior to beginning any yoga regimen. Always practice yoga poses at your level of comfort.
The word Setu Bandha comes from the Sanskrit word “Setu” which means Bridge; and Bandha meaning contraction or bind. Hence, when we try this pose our body looks like a bridge.
Setu Bandhasana is a great to pose that can help solve any number of ailments. From developing strength in your core and glutes (which helps alleviate low back pain) to opening the chest. Bridge Pose is an excellent beginning backbend which is a versatile pose to help learn proper alignment and strengthening for more advanced back bending poses. There are so many variations for this pose that anyone can practice it.
Getting into bridge pose
Lay on your back, bend your knees at ninety degrees and place your feet flat on the floor, hip width apart and parallel. You may choose to have a folded blanked under your shoulders to support your neck. Arms are by your sides with your palms facing down. As you exhale, press your inner feet and arms actively into the floor, and your pelvis up toward the ceiling. Slowly lift the buttocks off the floor. Be sure to keep your legs parallel and not let your knees splay apart.
To take the pose deeper, you can roll your shoulders and chest open, and clasp your hands under your pelvis and extend through the arms to help you stay on the tops of your shoulders.
Lift your buttocks until the thighs are about parallel to the floor. Keep your knees directly over the heels, but push them forward, away from the hips, and lengthen the tailbone toward the backs of the knees. Lift the pubis toward the navel. Don’t move your head from side to side, but gently lift your chin way from the sternum slightly and open your chest by pressing the shoulder blades into the floor. This will allow you to press the top of the sternum toward the chin. Keep firming the outer arms, broadening the shoulder blades, and lifting the chest.
Hold the pose for 30 seconds or a minute if you can, and release with an exhale, rolling the spine one vertebrae at a time onto the floor.
Those having injuries to the neck, shoulder and spine should not practice this pose.
Pregnant women should always consult a doctor in the last 6-9 months of pregnancy before practicing Bridge pose to avoid any complications.
Always consult a doctor first before beginning any exercise regimen, including yoga.
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