“Inversions freak me out. Any tips for beginners?”
You don’t have to go all circus act in yoga to get the benefits of being upturned. “An inversion is any posture in which your head is below your heart,” says Kelli Precourt, yoga instructor and owner of Balance Health Studio in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida. So yes, downward-facing dog counts. “These postures increase circulation and oxygen to the brain, which boosts energy, stimulates the lymphatic system, and builds strength.”
Ease into one by doing down dog with your heels against a wall and baby-stepping your way to a supported handstand. “Keep your hands on the floor 15cm in front of your shoulders, and walk your feet up the wall until they’re in line with your hips,” she says. Then walk your hands in until they’re under your shoulders. “From there, you can take one foot off the wall and extend it upwards.”
When you’re ready to try moving both feet off the wall, ask your instructor for a spot. “Take child’s pose after any inversion. It helps redistribute your blood” Kelli adds.
One safety note: If you have spinal issues, neck pain, high or low blood pressure, or are menstruating, which causes blood pressure to dip, skip ’em. “Inversions increase pressure in your head and can aggravate a preexisting problem in your spine,” says Kerry Martinez, a clinical exercise physiologist and yoga teacher in Baltimore. - Jaclyn Emerick