Turn Your World UPside Down
Inversions are some of the most beautiful and challenging experiences in my personal practice. I encounter the parts of myself that surface whenever there is friction: those voices inside of my head that tell me, "You are not good enough. You are not strong enough. You don't belong here." When I choose to listen to my breath and trust my beating heart, I float above all of the doubt; it is shear exhilaration to stand on something other than my feet. Bringing inversions into your personal practice aren't just for the cool instagram post. They illuminate the deeper relationship you have with yourself.
Encounter FEAR in a safe space. Fear can evoke many different responses from us. Sometimes, it's imagining all of the different ways that we can fail spectacularly. Sometimes fear paralyzes us. We can't make choices. We get stuck. OR we run away and avoid at all possible costs. Especially when the stakes are high, it's hard to move WITH the fear. Fear happens because our mind is trying to save us from what it deems life threatening. It's not an inherently BAD. How we respond to fear can be limiting. Inversions teach us to dance with fear. Instead of habitually responding with freeze or run, we choose to thank fear for trying to save us and integrate that wisdom into the physical posture by choosing to SLOW DOWN and savor each moment on the way up instead of pushing to get the end result.
Stay in the PRESENT moment. Going upside down takes an incredible amount of focus. The moment the mind wanders to anything outside of the precisely what is happening, every detail of your body, and how you're using breath, is the moment you fall. Inversions force us to stay with ourselves. Especially in our society, there are so many effortless ways for the mind to wander. Pick up your phone, get lost in deep Facebook, read that buzzfeed article and fall down the rabbit hole. We've conditioned our brains to wander. When you are upside down, if your mind is not focusing fully on the moment-to-moment shifts happening in your body, you will fall on your face 99.9% of the time.
Gain a new PERSPECTIVE. Every time you go upside down, your ass is literally above your head. That can be disconcerting. The entire orientation of your body to the ground is off. That teaches us to see our body parts in relationship to each other. For example, when I'm cuing a student to engage their glutes in a standing posture, I'll say something like "lengthen your tailbone to the ground". When upside down, glutes need to be engaged, but your butt is no longer going towards the ground so I'll say something like, "lengthen your tailbone towards your heels". You are seeing your world in a different way. Start to see different sides to the same story. Learn compassion, for yourself when you fall, for all of the different angles of you, for every side of your story.
Trust yourself. Going upside down takes an incredible amount of strength, in the whole body, but particularly the core- the seat of your personal power. In the yogic tradition, the third chakra, manipura, holds our personal power, the things that we want, and the conviction to stand up for what we believe in. I've conformed to the role that the patriarchy has created for women in the past: we are delicate, in need of saving. Being strong is not attractive or feminine. Guess what? I am no longer interested in that narrative. I am not delicate. I am the only person who can truly "save" me. I am not only physically strong, but mentally and emotionally resilient. People will tell you what they think of you, but you know your truth. Going upside down is the ultimate trust fall. You must trust your strength, your power. You must trust that you will fall and your body will catch you. You must trust your breath to guide you beyond the discomfort and your heart to burn bright with courage.
Inversions teach us about us, about who were are when we encounter challenge, about what we choose in the face of fear. The world of inversions is colorful. There are active postures like headstand, forearmstand, handstand, and multitudes of variations with arms and legs in each. There is also a world of other more passive inversions like legs-up-the-wall, shoulderstand (particularly supported shoulder stand on a yoga wheel). Adding these to your personal practice and discover layers of you that have been waiting meet you!