When I was a kid, I remember my dad making a headstand and thought it looked like a lot of fun. Of course, I also wanted to try, and I discovered that I loved the feeling of being upside down. Of course, I did not know that I "trained" – if I had it, it might have been less fun.
Years later, in a yoga class, I came back to the headstand, and I was surprised at how much harder it was now that I was a full adult. Still, I accepted the challenge and found that I still liked her enough to work on it better. In the course of my training, I got to know many other ways to turn myself upside down. I also found out that inversions have a number of advantages that I had not even thought of.
Practicing these exercises in addition to the mere presentation in front of your friends also offers a lot of advantages: Inversions are ideal for building body awareness and balance and core strength. In fact, newcomers are often surprised at how much commitment these exercises require. Each time you temporarily reverse your blood flow by turning it over, the rest of the body has an invigorating circulation boost.
In addition to the physical challenges, inversions for beginners can often be psychologically overwhelming. It's scary to turn around first! However, combating this fear can be very empowering.
I recommend performing the following steps at the beginning of your workout after a quick warm-up or saving them as part of the cool-down for the end. Be sure to take time to go through these variations and pay attention to your body.
The shoulderstand is usually the simplest inversion that is learned. Start by lying on your back, then pull your legs up to your chest and lift your hips up into the air above your shoulders. From there, grab your lower back and gradually move your body to an upright position. Move slowly and take a deep breath.
To make the most of your shoulder stand, extend your entire body as you tighten your abs and stretch your legs. You may feel a deep stretch in your neck, but do not press it when you feel pain. You may not be able to achieve a perfectly straight shoulder stand at first, but with some practice, this step should be relatively easy.
Start in a deep, squat position, fold it forward and place the top of your head on the floor. From there, you can either fold your fingers behind your head with your forearms and elbows resting on the floor, or you can lay both palms flat on the floor a few inches from your face.
Regardless of the arm position you feel Keep your toes comfortable on the floor as you lift your hips up as high as possible and stack them over your shoulders. As soon as your hips are above your head, you are aiming to lift your feet up and bring your body in a straight line. I encourage you to start with a wall or a spotter behind you to keep your balance. Over time, you can learn to do the exercise without help.
As the name implies, you will now turn your body around with only your forearms on the ground. The forearm stand is still a tricky move, but it's easier to access than a handstand because it has larger points of contact to aid balancing. In fact, this may be a helpful transitional step for someone familiar with the headstand, but not yet ready to try a freestanding handstand.
Some people will find it easier to hold the forearm stand with a curved back. This is sometimes called "scorpion pose". If you have difficulty balancing in a normal forearm tripod and want to try out the variation of the scorpion, you should first point out that there can be intense flexion. It may be a good idea to warm up the spine with preparatory bridge work.
Handstands are a fantastic exercise for the entire upper body, especially for shoulders and traps. They are also great for hands, forearms and wrists.
The gold standard is the freestanding handstand, although you can still have the same benefits when using a wall to improve your balance. When you use a wall as an aid, there are basically two ways to position yourself: you can kick your back to the wall or stand in a handstand while looking at the wall. Each method presents its own unique challenges and offers specific benefits. The back-to-the-wall approach will help you practice climbing up and down your handstand with more control, while the chest-on-the-wall method will help you find the best alignment.
Depending on individual factors, some people may find one method more or less difficult than the other. Regardless of what is accessible first, I recommend practicing both ways.
In a list of esoteric practices, this is the most unusual and perhaps the most difficult. It's also a bit different because you will not have any more contact with the ground. Instead, use your feet – yes your feet – to support your body in the opposite direction. No, you do not need any of these "inversion tables" to do this. You can do this on any chin-up bar or jungle gym, and you still get circulatory benefits if you work your quads, feet and ankles in a way you've never seen before.
Start with hanging on a counter. Then lift your legs up and hook your feet over them. From there, slowly loosen up your grip as you actively flex your toes toward your shins, squeeze your quads, and shift the weight to your toes. When you feel ready, move your hands from the chin-up bar to the side posts that support the bar. From here you can put less and less weight into your hands over time, until you decide to remove them completely.
Make sure that you actively maintain tension throughout your body, especially in the abdominals. In fact, you may find it easier to hang in a partial seat, with the upper body first bent forward. If you feel you are losing grip, be prepared to grab the side posts and gently lower yourself before they fall. However, I recommend making sure that something soft is under you, just in case you slip.
What a Rush!
Some people may initially feel dizzy when they are new to inversions. As with any new exercise, you do not want to try too much and too early.
Also, be careful not to hold your breath while practicing the above exercises. There is a lot to consider when standing on your head, but breathing should still be high on the list!
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