Explore Upside Down

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Do you feel sluggish or sense you are stuck in the same vicious cycle? Bring out your inner child by exploring the world upside down. Through exercise, you can change the way you live and experience more happiness. The following asana’s specifically improve your cardiovascular, lymphatic, nervous, and endocrine bodily systems.


Before you attempt these exercises, perform several sun salutations for 20 minutes to ensure the body is warmed up properly. In addition, if you are pregnant, menstruating, have high blood pressure or an upper body injury, seek guidance before trying these poses.

Single Legged Downward Facing Dog
Single Legged Downward Facing Dog
During your sun salutations, try an excellent hip opener pose while you are in your downward facing dog. To get into the full pose, come onto all fours and push your hips back by taking your knees off the ground and pressing your palms into the floor. Relax your neck and draw your shoulders away from your ears. Slowly extend and pivot one leg up to the ceiling so your thigh bone faces east or west. Drop your extended leg's heel to your gluteus and stay for several breaths. Concentrate on stretching the thigh and hip flexor area by curling the tailbone inward and attempting to stack hips. Be careful to not alter the upper body position. To transition, come to downward facing dog and repeat on the other side.
Salamba Sirisana (Headstand)
Salamba Sirisana (Headstand)
This pose improves clarity of thought, mental sharpness, brings blood flow to brain, tones the neck muscles, relaxes the nervous system, and cleans organs from the anti-gravity effect. From downward facing dog, carefully drop onto your forearms and clasp both hands together (or make a fist with one hand and grab your fist with the other). Plant the crown of your head onto the ground and strengthen your neck and shoulder muscles. Engage your abdominals and shoulders and slowly walk your feet up to your elbows. To advance into the pose, bring one knee to your chest and lengthen it up toward the sky; then slowly do the same with the other leg using your abdominal strength. Focus on a rebound effect by pressing your forearms down as you lengthen your legs upward (avoid compression of the neck and spine). If pain occurs, come out of the pose and rest in child pose. Stay in the pose for several breaths or up to three minutes. The more advanced you are, the longer you can stay and the more benefits that will be experienced. To come out of the pose, slowly engage your abs and take one leg down to the floor followed by the other; then rest upright or in child pose.
Pincha Mayurasana (Peacock Pose)
Pincha Mayurasana (Peacock Pose)
This pose builds arm and abdomen strength, balance, concentration, and is good for blood circulation. If this is your first attempt, be near a wall to try the modified version until you build strength to come into the full pose. First, sit down placing your back against the wall. Mark where your feet are and then clasp your hands together like in a headstand position on that point. Walk your feet up the wall engaging your abdominals. Your body will look like an inverted ‘l’ shape. Stay for several breaths focusing on building upper body strength and then come out of the pose. To advance, come into standing position and bring your elbows to your ribcage while flexing your hands. This position is referred to as your standing chaturanga pose, which is the exact same pose you can come into inverted. To begin, start in downward facing dog and then drop your elbows onto the floor so you are in dolphin pose. The crown of the head will gently touch the floor. Walk your feet in and slowly bend your right knee to right arm and left to left arm. Lift your hips up as you draw your legs toward your chest and progressively up toward the ceiling. Stay as compact as possible and stack your spine over hips while you extend your legs upward. Once you are done, rest in child pose.
Halasana (Plow Pose)
Halasana (Plow Pose)
This pose improves both circulation and relaxation, and prepares the body for meditation. Lie down on your back, reach both arms toward your feet, and slowly engage your abdominals to take your legs and toes overhead. Use your abdominals to straighten your spine in this inverted pose. To advance, interlace your hands behind your back and press down into the matt. Lengthen your chin away from your sternum and stay for several breaths. To come out of the pose, slowly engage your abdominals while releasing your hands out to the side. Begin lengthening your spine like a caterpillar onto the matt and bring your knees into your chest. Rest for a few breaths and do happy baby or savasana. For thousands of years, yogis have practiced yoga in search of enlightenment and have developed numerous exercises to increase prana, open chakras, improve health and immunity, and much more. Inversions provide an excellent way to relieve aches, arthritis, and depression, as well as improve muscle and heart strength. Enjoy your upside down workout, but remember to practice with caution and honor your practice.
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