Senior yoga teacher at Kaya Health Clubs Monica Aurora provides the following guidance for performing headstands/inversions, a popular yoga pose

Inversions/headstand - Yoga moves - IMAGE - Women's Health & Fitness

 

Inversions/headstand:

A headstand is an advanced inversion pose that should be learnt under the guidance of a teacher. However, the benefits of inversions can be obtained from simply lying on your back with your legs up the wall.  "There are three main factors that will prevent you from doing a headstand: flexibility, strength and fear of standing on your head. Standing on our heads can be very frightening and also potentially harmful. Aurora suggests those who attempt headstand should take measures of caution and proceed slowly so they do not injure themselves.

Physical benefits:

Inversions help to improve balance and strengthen muscles around the core, shoulders and arms. Inverting the body with the head below the heart increases blood flow to the brain. Each inversion has a diagnosed energetic benefit; some are energising while others are relaxing. This increase in blood and therefore oxygen to the brain can bring about an increase in alertness.

Mental benefits:

Heating inversions (such as hand or headstands) tend to awaken and energise whereas cooling types (such as shoulder stands and legs up the wall) tend to activate the parasympathetic nervous system and can be used to induce a feeling of calm.

"Inversions tend to be quite fun. Children do them naturally and most adults enjoy the journey back to the fun activities of their childhood," Dr Watkins says. At the same time, they're often psychological challenging and in that sense can help to build confidence and sense of achievement.

Instructions:

Advanced yoga practitioners can follow Aurora's guide to completing inversions.

1. Come into kneel close to a wall. To find the correct position for the elbows, grab hold of the opposite elbow with each hand.

2. Keep the elbows at this width (approximately shoulder distance apart) and interlace your hands into a loose, basket-like grip. Then place the back of the hands one foot away from the wall.

3. From a kneeling position, tuck the chin into the chest and place the back of your head into your hands.

4. Press into the feet and lift the hips up, as if to come into downward facing dog with the head on the floor.

5. Walk the feet into the elbows or as close as you can get. When you are ready, bend one knee and draw it into the chest.

6. To proceed, draw the second knee into the chest, then send both soles of the feet to the wall above the head. Continue lifting out of the forearms to float the shoulders away from the ears.

7. The legs can extend up the wall when you are confident with the strength in your shoulders and hip strength.

Image provided by Kaya Health Clubs

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