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I’ve been doing yoga for over a decade now, and I feel like I’m pretty good at a lot of poses. I am decently flexible, my alignment has been good since I took my RYT 230 hour training… But I’ve never been great at inversions.
When I moved up to the cities and started going to more “authentic” (or what I’d call daring) yoga studios, teachers would add in a couple minutes near the end of class for folks to practice the “inversion of their choice”: headstand, arm balances, dolphin, legs up the wall, etc.
Now, obviously, any inversion is a good inversion.
I’m not saying that you have to do headstands or arm balances to be a good yogi. Far from it.
Getting your head below your heart is good at any time, and NOT doing tricky inversions can be the best choice for many people.
What I’m saying is that I wanted to expand and try new things. I wanted to push myself to get better core strength to be able to attempt more fully realized upside down positions. And I wanted to get all the way upside down.
The more vertical you get in an upside-down pose, the better the benefits for things like blood, lymph, and skin systems.
The claimed list of benefits in doing inversions is long:
- Reduce heart rate
- Improve respiration
- Circulate lymph
- Hormone regulation
- Stress reduction
- Increased oxygenation to the brain
- Builds core strength
The claimed risks in doing inversions, especially ones that put pressure on your neck, is also long:
- Increased blood pressure in the head
- Added pressure in your eyes
- Risk damaging the cervical spine if supporting weight on head
- Vascular congestion in the uterus (for women)
- Damage to shoulder and neck muscles if improperly supported
Given all of the benefits, I have always wanted to be able to do a proper inversion. It felt like it was calling me, I had a yearning for it. I did handstands by a wall, I did cartwheels in my classroom, I did forearm balances with a spotter.
But given that I had a serious neck injury when I was 10 years old, told I could never go on a trampoline, dive into the water or stand on my head… I was reluctant to actually do a headstand.
I have tried them, with support, only a few times, and I know I probably shouldn’t have. I did fine and I had enough core strength to hold myself up, but the risk to my cervical spine is too great to do on a regular basis.
I knew I needed to find an alternative.
I have increasingly been able to do forearm balances, particularly scorpion, but only because I have been doing dolphin push-ups a TON to build up my shoulder and core strength. But it’s not the same as a true inversion because I still sway my back and I’m craning my neck to look at the floor.
Again, I was always looking for an alternative.
So what did I do? I found something that helps me get upside down, 100% verticle, 100% of the time with no pressure on my neck and absolutely no weight on my head.
Maybe you already knew about these things, and maybe you’ve ignored them or thought they were too pricey, but I’m telling you, if you want to do an inversion right and do it NOW, this is the ONLY thing you need.
What am I talking about???
An inversion stand, of course!
The one that I use is the Bodylift inversion stand, but there are many similar varieties, all available on Amazon, of course.
I finally took the plunge a couple of years ago and it is honestly one of the very best purchases I have made for myself. It cost less than $100, it is easy to store and move. It’s only about a foot and half cubed, so I keep it in my closet at work and bring it out whenever I can to just pop up into inversion and I’m happy as a bat.
You can EASILY do an inversion easily right away in the morning, before lunch, after work, whenever!
I also use the inversion stand for push-ups, cobra pose, triceps pushups, lunges, and a myriad of other simple weight-bearing exercises. (Here is a link to the Yogacise bench in the video, not the one I purchased. The one in the video has some extra awesome features like tension straps and the ability to fold it up for easier storage.)
An inversion stand is different from an inversion table. An inversion table completely bears all of your weight at an angle upside down. It is beneficial for lymph movement, spinal alignment, neck and back pain and blood pressure. The inversion table, though, holds your body up completely and you invert slowly at an angle, your body is relaxed and possibly not completely upside down.
With my favorite tool of the inversion STAND, you get yourself upside down with your own strength, you are resting your weight on your shoulders, and your head and neck are free and relaxed.
It is SO simple to use and is completely possible even if you aren’t used to getting into a headstand on your own.
The first time I did it I propped the stand up next to a wall, just to be safe, but it was completely unnecessary. I was able to invert all by myself, I didn’t wobble at all, and I was able to stay inverted for over 2 minutes without even touching the wall.
I WAS HOOKED.
Seriously. It’s SO easy. I’ve had students try it. My mom used it. People who don’t regularly do yoga have tried it. It works!
I no longer set the stand next to the wall; I am able to use it in the middle of the room if I want.
Here’s how easy it is to get into an inversion with the stand:
- Put your head down in the “bowl” of the stand
- Grab the bars with your hands as you walk your feet in as close as you can
- Shift onto your toes and align your hips over your head (Honestly, this is enough if that’s all you want to do.)
- If you want to keep going, like I usually do, put a knee on each elbow
- Slowly press your feet straight up to the sky
And there you are, doing a full-on inversion! So easy.
It builds core strength at the same time as giving your head and neck a break so if you are working towards doing a headstand or arm balance on your own, this stand will definitely help you get there.
It has all the benefits of inversions from above and ALSO:
- Takes the pressure off your cervical spine
- Builds core strength
- Allows you to do other weight-bearing exercises
- Removes the FEAR of going upside down
- Keeps your head and neck safe
Inversions in the morning are now my very favorite thing. I’ve heard they also have the benefit of removing and reducing wrinkles. I’m pretty sure that’s real too. All that reversal of gravity, you know.
Well, there you have it. My top-secret trick to doing an inversion every single day. 100%. All the benefits of an inversion and very few of the risks.
You have to try it.
So will you? Grab your inversion stand today!
I hope you get one and can start your very own inversion practice daily as soon as possible. It was seriously one of the best choices I made.
I am now able to do forearm balances on my own with no support from any person or wall. My core is stronger, my fear of tipping over is almost gone. I also get to relax my head and neck and feel as though I am doing my blood pressure a favor.
I’m also working on my handstand, too. It’s harder for sure, but it’s become much easier ever since I started using the stand.
Here is another video of the Yogacise bench (not the one I purchased but has other cool options.)
Please let me know how you like yours 🙂