How to Master Inverted Yoga Poses
We've got some news that will make you flip: that position your heart higher than your head (think headstands and handstands) have been credited with banishing back pain and improving how well you breathe on a run--not to mention sculpting flatter abs.
So-called inversion therapy doesn't happen only in yoga class, either. Chiropractors have long utilized inversion tables to treat mild back conditions, and gravity boots have been around for decades (gaining popularity in 1980 when Richard Gere sported them in American Gigolo).
Sound like too much of a head rush? You can score the body benefits of inversion therapy from just a few minutes of kicking your feet up.
Make the Flip in 3 Moves
These poses increase in difficulty, so get comfortable with dolphin before moving to shoulder stand and headstand. Add 'em to your regular yoga practice, either after the standing sequence or toward the end (if you want to slow down and hold longer poses), or do them on their own (after a warm-up pose, like downward-facing dog), says Kathryn Budig, author ofThe Women's Health Big Book of Yoga. You can safely do these poses every day--just be sure to come into a counter pose (like child's pose, reclining twists, or fish pose) after each inversion. Start by holding each for eight full breaths, working up to holding headstands and shoulder stands for up to five minutes at a time.
1. Supported Shoulder Stand
Lie faceup on the floor and swing your legs up and over your head to bring your toes to touch the floor behind you. Bend your elbows and move your palms to your lower back. Bring both legs straight up in the air so that your heels, knees, hips, and shoulders are in one straight line. Walk your hands down your back to elevate your hips. Keep a slight lift in your chin and gaze toward your navel.
2. Dolphin Pose
Get onto your hands and knees and lower your forearms to the floor, your elbows directly under your shoulders; from this position, straighten your legs to come into a downward-facing dog position, lifting your rib cage away from your shoulders and pressing your heels toward the floor.
Relax the neck and keep space between the ears and shoulders.
Kneel in front of a wall, interlace your fingers, and position your forearms on the floor, elbows shoulder-width apart. Place the crown of your head on the floor in front of your palms. Walk your feet in and slowly bring one knee, then the other, to your chest. Brace your core, slowly straighten your legs, and press your forearms into the floor.
Video: How To Do Inversions For Beginners! | How to get comfortable on your hands!
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