Inversions (Headstand, Plow and Shoulder stand)

Welcome to the Inversions series of Yogea Asana Lab. This section will feature the three “royal asanas” — Headstand (Sirsasana); Plow (Halasana) and Shoulder stand (Sarvangasana). Headstand can be extremely easy or extremely difficult to achieve. You will be guided through simple instructions to find balance, and set the arm and head alignment in order to create a stable and yet tension free base. It is important to note that the fontanel and not the forehead should serve as your foundation in Headstand, otherwise the cervical spine will get compressed and the entire pose will be torturous for the neck. The other key alignment point is to work on drawing the elbows in so they don’t splay out and create a tendency for the shoulders to shrug and hike up the ears. Once the foundation is set the balancing and inverting action comes naturally. Headstand has myriads of benefits, but most importantly it reverses the flow of gravity, while promoting circulation throughout the entire body and eliciting the parasympathetic nervous system response. On a spiritual note, it opens the pineal gland and sparks insight to unleash our creative genius.
The second favorite inversion is Plow and it gives an another opportunity for the body to refurbish the circulatory system and sooth the nerves, while stimulating the vital chakra to channel life force and boost the body’s natural defense shield. Plow must be practiced with great caution, not to hurt the cervical spine. Ideally, the hands will support the lower back as the elbows draw in and the legs kick over the head. Leaving some space between the chin and the chest is encouraged in order to allow seamless breath. Spiritually, plow clears mental debris locked in the neck and challenges the tendency to over-analyze. It suspends all doubt and while maintaining the throat locked, it opens the inner voice to the callings of the subconscious.
The third inversion is Shoulder stand and it requires a more limber cervical spine to perform correctly. If you feel restricted in you cervical spine flexibility, practice plow longer, until you can jump the legs into shoulder stand, or place a couple of blankets under the shoulders to give you the extra lift. Once you are in shoulder stand, make sure the elbows frame the ribs and align with the torso. Gradually walk your fingertips further up your mid back, with the fingers pointing to the sacrum. Once you get your legs up align the legs with the torso by pushing the hands into the spine and resting the spine into the hands. Remind yourself to leave space between the neck and chest and fire up the legs, as you point the feet and fan the toes out. As an inversion, shoulder stand is a nervous system soother, a circulatory stimulator and an immune booster. Energetically, it opens the third eye and awakens intuitive perception and our inner guide.
All three poses require full engagement of leg and arm muscles as well proper postural alignment. Inversions are best practiced towards the end of the practice in the winding down section. Because they bring a shift of perspective, they are essential as we try to stay balanced in a world that is constantly changing and reinventing itself anew.
Yogea Asana Lab is not a yoga routine and should be regarded solely as an educational platform to reinforce proper postural alignment and improve the quality of your practice. The approach is integrated as poses are grouped into different targeted categories. Each set of poses is demonstrated only on one side. The route of assuming poses and releasing through counter-poses is mapped clearly and slowly, allowing time for assimilation and grasping. The main objective is to guide you in and out of poses safely and smoothly, as well as to acquaint you with basic anatomical and energetic principles that weave the geometry of every asana. In turn, you will be able to perform the Yogea routines with clarity, precision and abandonment. As you follow the tips of proper alignment you will feel more stable, ready to deepen your practice and eager to transition gracefully from one stage to the next both on the mat and in life.

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