Yoga inversions can be loosely translated as poses that hold the heart higher than the head. In some poses not only is the heart above the head, the feet are too!

When the body inverts, the action of gravity is reversed: instead of everything being pulled towards the feet, the orientation shifts towards the head. Similarly, on the emotional and psychic levels, inverted asanas turn everything upside down, throwing a new light on old patterns of behaviour and being.

Inversions improve the functioning of the circulatory, lymphatic, nervous and endocrine systems by reversing the natural flow of blood, metabolic waste and stress hormones throughout the body. Other physical benefits of inversions include strengthening muscles in the neck, back, shoulders and core.

Flipping upside down is said to improve health, reduce anxiety, lower stress and increase self-confidence. Generally, these practices are refreshing and revitalising. They challenge the body and mind. Through increasing our ability to adapt to change, instead of being stuck in habitual responses, we increase our capacity for growth and transformation.

Inverted asanas are very powerful practices and must be performed correctly with utmost care. It’s important to have a firm padded surface away from furniture or anything that might impede a free fall to the floor and to practice on an empty stomach. It’s also advised to hold the poses for a few seconds initially, building the duration over time and practice. Always listen to your body, honour it’s needs and practice safely.
It is not advisable to practice inversions if one has heart conditions, high blood pressure, a history of stroke or heart disease; diabetes; pregnancy beyond the first trimester; glaucoma or other eye disorders; spinal problems or chronic neck pain; excess weight; dizziness, head injuries, or inner ear problems; hernia; or osteoporosis.

Plough pose

Halasana

  • Lie in the PMA2 Base Position.
  • Straighten the legs to vertical and position them over the body towards the head.
  • Press the arms into the floor and raise the buttocks.
  • Simultaneously curl the pelvis and lift the back away from the floor.
  • Take the legs over the head and lower the toes to the floor.
  • Turn the palms up, bend the elbows and draw the elbows toward each other.
  • Place the hands behind the ribcage, slightly away from the spine, to support the back.
  • Relax in the final position and hold for as long as comfortable.
  • To release, return the arms to the floor palms faced down.
  • Gradually lower each vertebrae of the spine to the floor followed by the buttocks then legs.

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Preliminary plough pose

Poorwa halasana

  • Lie in the PMA2 Base Position
  • Raise both legs to vertical.
  • Keep the legs straight and move them towards the head to make a 45 degree angle with the torso and the legs.
  • Separate the legs as wide apart as comfortable and then bring them together again.
  • With the legs straight, slowly lower them to the floor.
  • Practice up to 10 times.

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Shoulder stand pose

Sarvangasana

  • Lie in the PMA2 Base Position.
  • Bend both knees and draw the thighs close to the chest.
  • Straighten the legs up and over the body towards the head.
  • Press the arms into the floor, raise the buttocks and take the legs further over the head.
  • Continue to lift by curling the pelvis and then the back away from the floor, so that the knees come toward the face.
  • Turn the palms up, bend the elbows and draw the elbows toward each other.
  • Place the hands behind the ribcage, slightly away from the spine, to support the back.
  • Make any adjustments required to stabilize the position so that the torso is at a 90 degree angle with the floor and the hands support the weight of the body.
  • Raise the legs vertical and press the heels up to the ceiling.
  • Firm the shoulder blades against the back and move the sternum nearer the chin.
  • Relax in the final position for as long as comfortable.
  • To release, bend the knees towards the chest, return the arms to the floor with the palms faced down then gently roll the body back onto the floor.

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Inverted pose

Vipareet karani asana

  • Lie in the PMA2 Base Position.
  • Bend both knees and draw the thighs close to the chest.
  • Straighten the legs up and over the body towards the head.
  • Press the arms into the floor, raise the buttocks and take the legs further over the head.
  • Turn the palms up, bend the elbows and draw the elbows toward each other.
  • Rest the top of the hips on the base of the palms.
  • Make any adjustments required to stabilise the position so that the torso is at a 45 degree angle with the floor and the hands support the weight of the body.
  • Raise the legs vertical and press the heels up to the ceiling.
  • Relax in the final position for as long as comfortable.
  • To release, bend the knees towards the chest, return the arms to the floor with the palms faced down then gently roll the body back onto the floor.

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Crown-based pose

Moordhasana

  • Stand with the feet as wide apart as comfortable.
  • Bend forward from the hips and place the hands on the floor in front of the feet.
  • Press down through the palms to help lengthen the spine then lower the crown of the head to the floor.
  • Raise the arms behind the back and either interlock the fingers or take hold of one wrist.
  • Hold for as long as appropriate, then release by returning the hands to the floor, engaging the abdominal muscles and raising the torso upright.
  • Practice up to 3 times.

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