Yoga Inversions – A simple guide for basic strength and mobility

The following exercises have proved helpful to me personally in building up an inversions practice. I’ve documented them here for you people who are attending the Yogafurie Inversions Course. Attendees will be coached in the safe execution of all of these: please don’t actually try these unless you’ve had the safety coaching face-to-face with a qualified Yogafurie instructor.

Pelvic floor

You can get your pelvic floor muscles working with a very simple exercise. You’ll be able to trigger them consciously in all your postures once you are used to feeling their operation.

Start in a kneeling position. If you can’t kneel then you’ll need a different exercise – we can help you here at Yogafurie, but it’s outside the scope of this blog so pop in and see us if you need additional help. Remember you can use blocks etc as per the safety training you’ll have received on the inversions course – please don’t try these exercises if you haven’t received that training.

Press your shins and feet into the mat until your hips start to lift.

Then simply release, rest down again, and repeat. As you go, tune in to where you can feel effort. Notice that there is pressure in the shins and tops of the feet. Then after a few rounds, let your attention drift up your legs and notice the effort in your thighs. Stay with that for a few rounds, then drift your attention higher again and tune into the centre-base of your pelvis. You’ll likely notice a distinct inward, upward squeeze. This is a sensation of your pelvic floor muscles. (There are other exercises and different muscles/sensations to explore, but this is a good start).

Stay with the sensation, gradually reducing the amount of movement. Eventually, you can sit still and simply isolate/squeeze/lift your pelvic floor.

Transverse abs and glutes

Remember all the tips in the safety training you’ll have received on the inversions course – please don’t try these exercises if you haven’t received that training.

Start lying flat on your back with one leg straight on the floor and the other bent, foot flat to the floor. Lift and lower the straight leg a few times as shown and notice how your belly muscles contract. Good abs workout, right?

Well that’s an interesting question! As your abs don’t connect to your legs, why is your body firing them at all? This is because it’s forgotten how to use the deepest layer of core muscle, the transverse abs.

We’ll repeat the exercise, but this time, press the bent leg foot firmly to the ground throughout the exercise. Also, reach away through the straight leg heel throughout the exercise. You’ll notice that your belly doesn’t fire up, and there’s a fainter sensation of work right at the base of the belly, between the navel and the groin, like a band of effort between
the two bony hip prominences at the front. You’ve found your transverse abs.

Keep working with it until you feel them and consciously fire them at will. Again, these are massively useful in all your postures.

Add some juice to the exercise by lift the hips as well – but make sure you’ve got pelvic floor and transverse abs working before you start lifting hips!

Forearm plank and dolphin pose

Remember all the tips in the safety training you’ll have received on the inversions course – please don’t try these exercises if you haven’t received that training.

With elbows directly under shoulders, you can interlace your fingers (easier) or extend your forearms forward, hands lining up with elbows (more difficult). Either way, this will work your shoulders from the outset.

There’s a sense that the elbows squeeze in towards each other. At the same time, you’re spreading the upper back, creating breadth between your shoulder blades. Push up into that breadth.

You’re working pelvic floor and transverse abs, so there’s a sensation that the tail is drawn down between the legs without tucking the hips. You’ll feel this along the front line of your body. Best to smile, like the lady in the picture!

Walk your feet forward to find dolphin pose. Again, you can spread the forearms or interlace your fingers. It’s important to create lots of lift up and back through your hips, and to reach the sit bones upwards. You might need a little bend in the knees to achieve these.

Of course, pelvic floor and transverse abs are engaged throughout.

Flow between the two positions – forearm plank and dolphin – after holding both for a minute or so.

Locust pose

Remember all the tips in the safety training you’ll have received on the inversions course – please don’t try this exercise if you haven’t received that training.

This posture can bring a lot of strength to the back line of your body. It’s worth practicing regularly.

Notice that the elbows are under the ribs. This is recommended, but if it hurts your elbows then you don’t have to have them under. Your palms can be flat to the floor, or facing your body, or you can interlace your fingers and extend your thumbs. Find a position that works for your shoulders and doesn’t hurt.

Some people do this with their chin on the floor. I recommend face down, forehead to the mat, but again don’t do anything that hurts you!

Lunge with contralateral twist

Remember all the tips in the safety training you’ll have received on the inversions course – please don’t try these exercises if you haven’t received that training.

This is a very interesting exercise. You’ll have been taught it in a warrior stance on the course. However, you can do it as shown above also, with the back knee down, and you can pad the back knee if kneeling is uncomfortable.

The picture shows the left arm extended (some bend in the elbow). You’ll have been taught to start with that arm low to the right side, pulsing a twist through your trunk and guiding its trajectory with your arm. You’ll have been taught to take 8-12 pulses before moving the hand up a little and repeating. The picture shows the arm position after 6-8 rounds of the exercise.

Frequency of practice

It’s recommended that you practice these exercises most days during the six weeks of the course. You’ll quickly grow stronger and be able to get more out of each practice. You can also practice the inversions at home, but remember: if you’re not sure of how to do the exercise or how to use supporting equipment, then don’t take any risks: hold off until you can speak to a qualified Yogafurie instructor about it.

Keep practicing!
Ed

Yoga inversions

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