YOGA IN YOUR TIME | FROM ANYWHERE
.. roll out your mat,
prepare to CONTORT
CHOOSE what you want
here, in short :
.. upside down
Technically, any posture, in which the head is below the heart, is an inversion. Whether you stand on your head, bend forward, or bend back, if the head is below the heart, you are performing an inversion. However we are talking here of feet of the ground inversions..
Turn your world upside down. Here, even the most simplest of movements can be confusing as we explore the opposite and unfamiliar relationship to gravity, shifting our perspective and neuromuscular awareness, reversing the effects of gravity in the body. The brain is flushed with nourishing blood, the mind clears, the nerves quieten down, and everything seems to become more still, yet awake, offering a graceful invitation to meditation. With practice Headstand becomes as stable as Mountain pose.
The greatest risk in most inversions is the neck. It is very important that students have a clear methodical set up and direction into and out of the asana to minimise risk.
In headstand, root down with what's on the ground -- head, forearms / hands. The pressing down triggers the lift back up. Pressing down into the forearms or hands, squeezing elbows in broadens the shoulders, activates the lats adding stability. Pressing down into the crown of the head activates the spinal erector and multifidi muscles close to the spine, relieving pressure in the neck, elongating the entire spine and creating a feeling of grounded levity.
There’s a tendency to forget core engagement upside down. Teach students to keep a solid core rather than ‘banana ‘ shaped handstands, forearm stands. ‘draw the ribs in’
Inversions and menstruation : ’Since no studies or research make a compelling argument to avoid inversions during menstruation, and since menstruation affects each woman differently and can vary from cycle to cycle, I am of the opinion that each woman is responsible for her own decision.’ - Barbera Benagh
INTEGRATION & COUNTERPOSE
Generally sequenced as part of the finishing practice.
Supported Headstand is warming when held and can be practiced earlier on in the class. Downward Facing Dog and Forward Fold are great prep postures whilst Childs Pose is nice after.
Shoulder stand is excellent for calming the body.
Inversions are excellent preparation for meditation.
With Shoulder Stand being more stable to start you can develop more nuanced muscular coordination that adds stability and ease to a variety of other inverted asana including fluid movements into and out of.
For new students, it’s recommended starting with mild or partial inversions first, then gradually attempting steeper inversions over a course of months, or steeper inversions sooner held for less duration, and build that way, in time held.
Students with cervical spine issues are advised not to practice any asana that further strains their neck.
Osteoporosis or other spinal problems.
Glaucoma or other eye disorders.
High blood pressure or history of stroke or heart disease.
In an inverted posture, gravity causes pressure to increase inside the blood vessels (arteries, veins, and capillaries) of the head and neck. The vessels of the brain and eyes are largely protected from this pressure increase because they are bathed in fluid. The pressure of which also increases during inversions: The pressure of the fluid pushing in on the blood vessel walls from outside counteracts the pressure of the blood pushing out on the vessel walls from inside. Blood vessels that lie outside of the skull and eyes, such as those supplying the inner lining of the nose, do not have this protection. Instead, many are protected by local reflexes that respond to elevated blood pressure by contracting muscles in the vessel walls. This contraction prevents the vessel walls from being overstretched. If inversions are introduced gradually, you are in theory systematically strengthening the vessel wall muscles by challenging them to contract against greater and greater pressure. How much blood pressure increases in the head during an inversion depends mainly on two factors: how far above the head the heart is, and how far above the heart the legs and trunk are.
FUNCTIONAL LINES (FL)
The functional lines extend the Arm Lines across the surface of the trunk to the opposite pelvis and leg. One of these lines runs across the front of the body, one across the back, so that the right and left lines together form an ‘X’ across the torso. A third line in this group, runs from the shoulder to the inside of the same knee. These lines are called the ‘functional’ lines because they come into play primarily during athletic or other activity where one appendicular complex is stabilised, counterbalanced, or powered by its opposite complement. I.e. a javelin throw or a baseball pitch.
These lines are less involved in standing posture, but do, however, have strong postural stabilising functions in positions outside the resting standing posture. Less frequently, they can be used to provide stability or counterbalance for the work of the lower limb, as in a football kick.
There is but one common postural compensation pattern associated with the FL and that is a preference rotation usually associated with handedness or a specific activity such as a sport, where one shoulder draws closer to the opposite hip repetitively. This can affect the tonus and coordination of the FL, but the Spiral, Lateral, or Deep Front Lines are usually the main limiters to the pattern.
These lines enable us to give extra power and precision to the movements of the limbs by lengthening their lever arm through linking them across the body to the opposite limb in the other girdle. Thus the weight of the arms can be employed in giving additional momentum to a kick, and the movement of the pelvis contributes to a tennis backhand. While many applications to sport spring to mind when considering these lines, the mundane but essential example is the contralateral counterbalance between shoulder and hip in every walking step
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