Inversions provide a stable foundation to expand your yoga practice. They also happen to be great for your body. As you move your head below your heart, you stimulate your nervous system. Blood and oxygen move toward the brain, increasing your circulation while you work out your core. Your energy and metabolic rate get a boost.
When you first try an inversion, you feel a bit like the crab-who-couldn’t, but practice makes perfect. Start by integrating these easy yoga inversions for beginners into your daily practice.
You’ve probably tried this one and forgot it was an inversion! It is! If not, get ready to do the easiest inversion of all, because inversions don’t have to involve you contorting fully upside down.
Your head does go below your heart, and it’s an excellent place to start with learning how to engage your core, arms and legs in an upside-down position. Your body forms a triangle shape with the hips at the tip and your head and feet as the base. To move into downward-facing dog, begin on all fours and tuck your toes under. Push your hips back toward your heels. Engage your core and begin to lift your hips up toward the sky.
It’s OK to shift your feet backward for comfort as you move into the pose. Apply firm pressure with your hands into the mat as you lean your weight into your legs. Your torso shouldn’t be too forward. Bend your knees if your hamstrings are tight, and push those hips into the air. Let your head hang, and stay there for five to eight breaths.
The dolphin pose helps beginners find the strength and stability needed in the core and upper body to move into more advanced poses. So, instead of trying to move right into a headstand, start with the dolphin pose to build your foundation.
Begin on all fours, lowering your elbows — keep your elbows aligned with your wrists. Your arm alignment is vital. Actively press your forefingers and thumbs down into the mat. Lift your back and hips like in downward-facing dog. Stay in this position for five to eight breaths.
Almost ready for a headstand! First, you need to get comfortable with the idea of your head meeting the floor and not injuring yourself. So, try the headstand prep to develop the confidence and strength in your upper body to get those hips above your head.
You already know the dolphin pose, so set yourself up similarly. Imagine placing a tennis ball in the space between your hands as you intertwine your hands. Move the crown of your head into the area between your wrists without it falling into your palms. Press your forearms and outer wrists down to lift your shoulders away from your ears.
Now, walk your feet inward as far as you can get. Hold this position for five to eight breaths.
Does your core still feel a little off? The wall T-stand will help you find it.
Move your mat to the wall. Begin on all fours, tucking your feet under at the wall’s base. Don’t walk your hands forward. Keep them underneath your shoulders, and then, lift your butt into downward-facing dog. Walk one leg up the wall — hey, Catwoman! — at hip level. Then, move your other foot up the wall. Straighten your legs.
Your arms will feel this pose, but hang in there for at least three to five breaths. To engage your abs, push more with your legs. Try to hold it for five to eight breaths. Once you master this pose, you can move on to trying a handstand, and moving your legs out into a V-shape is one of the easiest shapes to perform.
Wanna be an asana queen? Time to do the shoulderstand, which is a move instructors typically use to slow the end of class down and still the mind. While your mind quiets, your body’s fully engaged. Your core, arms and legs work the whole time.
Grab two towels or blankets to help you get comfortable as you find familiarity with the pose. Stack the blankets at the back edge of your mat, but you can also fold the mat over them for more grip. Lie your shoulders and upper back down on this support with your head sticking out. Use your abs to bring your legs up into the plow pose. Stop there if you need.
Next, lace your hands together, walking your shoulders toward your ears, coming off your cervical vertebrae. Your weight will be in your arms and the back of your skull. Breathe, and once you’re ready, lift your legs over your head into a straight line. Engage your abdomen, reaching your feet toward the sky. Hold for five to eight breaths. To take a mini break, lower your legs, then reset.
These five beginner-friendly inversion poses will give you more stamina, energy and strength and boost your immune and nervous systems. You don’t have to dive right into full-blown inversion poses and hang upside down dangerously without a stable core.
Find reward in building your strength and flexibility, and remember, a little support gets us all through life more mindfully.