By Joao Da Costa
Yoga as a discipline can bring numerous benefits to a dedicated practitioner, from pranayamas, meditation and asana practice, all support your body and mind growth in different ways. Each posture (or Asana), have their own qualities and own benefits, hence way having a well rounded practice will help you evolve your body/mind.
After committing to my Yoga practice for over 11 years, I have developed ways in which I can not only challenge my body but to also find stillness of the mind. I have then found that Arm Balances and Inversions were the missing postures my body and mind needed to explore. Over the past 5 years I have been dedicating many hours of my practice to perfect those postures.
They are incredibly fun postures to practice and they support body/mind growth in so many ways:
As we move into the cooler months there’s no better time than now to get upside down. Inversions are proven to increase circulation as well as brain functionality. So not only will you be warmer but smarter!
Get Strong and Energise
I meant this both physically and mentally. Arm balances and inversions are some of the biggest physical challenges we meet in our Asana practice. But when we can learn to greet them with a strong, clear mind we learn so much about ourselves. Plus getting into these postures safely and sustainably means building both core strength and shoulder stability.
Feeling that 3pm slump coming on? Instead of the chocolate bar or coffee you could simply bust out a downward facing dog (because technically it’s an inversion) and breath deeply for five breaths. Far more energising and sustainable than a coffee.
Keep it Playful. Keep it Light.
There’s nothing more humbling (or fun) than inversions and arm balances. When learning the art of ‘play’ through inversions and arm balances, you’re going to fall out. There’s no avoiding it if you’re going to show up fully and give it a good crack. Taking yourself out of your comfort zone and having fun along the way and not taking yourself too seriously — now that’s a skill.
Overcome Fear Response
In the beginning of your practice inversions may feel challenging, they may spark a sense of uneasiness and fear. All of a sudden your head is so close to the floor and your hands are doing all the work of keeping your head from clashing on the floor. Certainly a scary image, and that’s what most of us unconsciously think, in the end it is a survival instinct, to avoid harm.
Once we take the plunge and start practicing inversions we tap into a very powerful knowledge, we begin to understand how our bodies and mind react to fearful situations. It helps us understand ourselves a bit better. Do we trust our hands and shoulders or do we kick our legs around in fear?
Inversions can become an incredible liberating journey. Learning how you can act during fearful situations, all of a sudden we become more resilient and powerful.
A Meditation Practice
Focus! One of the most important aspects of balancing in your hands. Your ability to connect deeply with your breath, become so present that nothing else around you matters. In Yoga we describe the ability to withdraw your senses from external distractions as; Pratyahara. This principle is the first stage to help a busy mind begin to find stillness and develop deeper levels of concentration.
At some stage an inversions practice becomes a deep meditative practice.
Arm Balances and Inversions can help your growth in many different ways. Translating these new learnings into our daily lives we may notice we become more confident, less scared by fearful situations, we learn how to become more present and increase our ability to concentrate and meditate.