The following variations and poses should be tried only after mastering the main Yoga inversions. One should consider learning these advanced variations from a teacher before trying it out themselves. It is also essential to avoid overstraining the body in any way.
These advanced variations are usually designed to further one’s Yogic practice by improving their strength, concentration and flexibility and not designed for any specific therapeutic benefits as such. Thus these asanas should only be attempted by those who have reached an advanced level of practice and understand that such asanas strongly affect the energy of the physical and subtle body.
Holding a forearm plank or moving from a Dolphin Pose to a forearm plank will help strengthen the core and achieve stability in this posture. You can either move into this posture from a Headstand or directly get into this pose.
If moving into the pose from a headstand, first bend the knees and arch your back. After finding stability in the inverted posture, adjust the forearms such that the palms are placed on either side of the head, flat on the mat, and the elbows remain at a distance of shoulder-width apart.
Shift the weight onto the forearms and slowly raise your head backwards and upward.
Raise the upper arms so that they are perpendicular to the forearms. If possible, lower the feet further and get the heels to rest on the crown of the head in final position. This, however, needs good practice, strength, balance and flexibility.
Similarly, you can get into a Scorpion pose from a Dolphin pose. Start by walking your feet forward and bring them closer to the elbows. This also pushes your hip higher, in line with your shoulders. The head stays up, off the floor and the gaze is forward. Lift your dominant leg first, followed by the other leg and move into the Scorpion pose as explained above.
Try to relax the whole body while holding the posture and hold the final position for as long as comfortable. You can either return to Sirsasana or simply bring the feet back to the floor and relax in Balasana for a couple of minutes before sitting upright.
Like Scorpion pose, strengthening the core and warming up in a forearm plank or a Chaturanga Dandasana will help achieve stability in this posture. You can follow the same steps as given for Scorpion pose except that in Pincha Mayurasana your legs will remain straight (not bent) and the back does not arch to move into a backend.
Instead, you work on lengthening the spine by drawing your navel in towards the spine and squeeze your outer legs together to roll the thighs in. The head remains off the mat and gaze is forward, in line with the centre point – in between your palms.
Keep the shoulder blades lifted and broad, and to release the posture, bring one foot down at a time.
The word ‘Poorna’ means inverted or reverse. This pose gives the same benefits as other inverted asanas. However, this is also a deep backbend and should only be performed by those who have supple backs.
For a Full Locust Pose, assume Locust Pose final position, i.e. lie on stomach (in prone) with chin on the mat and palms placed under the thighs. Inhale and raise both legs as high as possible. Keep the arms and shoulders in firm contact with the floor. Lift the legs with a jerk into a vertical position and continue to balance on shoulders, chin and arms.
Retain the breath inside as you balance here, and gradually bend the knees and bring the toes down to touch your head in final position. Breathe normally and hold the posture for as long as comfortable. To release the posture, lift the feet and find the point of balance. Then slowly lower the body to rest in prone. Turn the head to one side and rest, allowing the heartbeat to return to normal.
The idea of standing on your hands instead of standing on your feet sounds marvellous, doesn’t it? For some, just the thought of turning upside and having the feet flying in the air could get their heart to beat faster! Well, the practice certainly does push the heart rate up and gets blood pumping while working on your core. It helps strengthen the wrists, arms, shoulders, and though it is an asana or a workout in itself, it is one of the rare postures that gets you excited, get you giggling and gives you a rush of happiness and fun!
These are some wonderful reasons to practice handstand daily! However, most of the contraindications mentioned under inversion are also applicable to a handstand, especially a shoulder/a neck or back injury, high BP, headache or any heart condition.
The only way to find stability in a handstand is to practice regularly. As the name suggests, in the final pose you should be strongly rooted like a tree, the only difference is that you carry the entire body weight on your hands instead of the legs.
Start by holding a Downward Dog position facing the wall, at a distance of 5-6 inches between your fingertips and the wall. Keep the shoulder blades broad and rotate your upper arms outward. Bend the left leg at the knee and bring it closer to the wall. Practice a few hops here before sweeping your right leg up and getting it to a vertical position with wall or partner support.
Now slowly work on getting the left leg up to the wall. Engage the core abdominal muscles as you balance and keep the head between your upper arms. Like any balancing posture, setting your gaze at a certain point on the floor will help achieve stability. Practising the hops with alternate legs will help to strengthen the right and left side. Every time you hop, exhale deeply and keep the core engaged.
Gradually, you will be able to kick all the way without the hops. And slowly, you can also practice lifting both legs together. Avoid arching the back and maintain a vertical position by lengthening the torso and rolling the thighs in. Keep your shoulder blades lifted even while coming down, bringing one leg down at a time.
There are numerous other variations that can be practised after gaining mastery over the basic inversions. Other variations include Bhoomi Mastakasana, Padma Sarvangasana, Salamba Sirsasana, Niralamba Sirsasana, Urdhva Padmasana, and other variations of Headstand and Handstands.
Since inversions are all about changing the way we feel and the way we look at things, we thought it would be interesting to throw some light on the Myths around the notion of inversions! Today we find many yoga blogs on inversions that cover most of the benefits mentioned above.
However, we came across an interesting blog on Eight Myths About Yoga Inversions and would definitely recommend this link to our readers. As per the author, Jon Burras, who is also a Wellness Consultant and a Yoga Therapist, it is important that we update our beliefs. He applies the same principle on ‘yoga inversions’ and thinks there is more mythology than there is truth in our approach.
We have listed his points of concern below and would love to hear your opinion!
Do inversions really benefit the heart? Neither the volume of blood nor the blood pressure really changes from standing upright position to when we turn upside down. Thus there is not much evidence to associate cardio-fitness with inversions.
How do inversions affect the subtle energy of the body when there is no evidence to suggest that there is a link between the physical force like gravity and a metaphysical force like chi? Also, most of the important meditation asanas that help channelise the energy are not inversions but seated postures.