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Asanas: Inversions


Downward Facing Dog
All Levels

Downward Facing Dog Pose | Adho Mukha Svanasana

Form: Hatha | a.k.a. Down Dog

Description: The preparatory position is with the hands and knees on the floor, hands under the shoulders, fingers spread wide, knees under the hips and typically about seven inches (17 cm) apart, with the spine straightened and relaxed.


On a deep exhale, the hips are pushed toward the ceiling, the body forming an inverted V-shape, with an arch in the back. The legs and arms are straight, the elbows engaged[dubious – discuss] , the shoulders wide and relaxed. The heels move toward the floor. The hands and feet remain hip-width apart. If the hamstrings are very strong or tight, the knees are bent to allow the spine to lengthen fully.


Stress on the wrists is reduced by pressing down with the fingers and borders of the palms, and pushing the hips up and backwards. The head drops slightly. The heart moves toward the back.


The hips move up and back. Focus is on the breath while holding the posture, with deep, steady inhalation and exhalation creating a flow of energy through the body. On an exhale, the practitioner releases onto the hands and knees and rests.


Standing Splits
Intermediate

Standing Splits | Urdhva Prasarita Eka Padasana

Form: Hatha

Description: Start in uttanasana. With hands on the floor and hips squared, walk hands back toward the standing foot to deepen the stretch. Hamstrings should be warmed up. As your practice advances, you will try to place both hands on the standing ankle and balance.


Shoulderstand Pose
Intermediate

Supported Shoulderstand Pose | Salamba Sirsasana

Form: Inyengar

Description: Sarvangasana or Shoulderstand, is an inverted asana (pose) in hatha yoga. Considered the "queen" of asanas, an especially important and beneficial pose. Its name in Sanskrit literally means "posture of the complete body."

Lying on the back with the hands under the mid-back, the legs and lower body are lifted so that the weight of the body is supported on the head, neck, shoulders and upper arms. The gaze is towards the toes and the head is aligned with the mid-line of the body.

Advanced practitioners hold this pose for as much as three hours. The weight placed on the cervical spine may mean a risk of neck injury.

The pose is contraindicated for high blood pressure, whiplash, menstruation, thyroid disorders, angina , and spinal weakness caused by conditions such as arthritis or osteoporosis. Believed to improve the blood circulation and reproductive organs in both men and women, relieve bronchitis, dyspepsia, varicose veins and increase digestive capacity. Inverted postures such as Sarvangasana affect the distribution of blood around the body, reducing the volume in what is normally the lower body and are thus speculated to be of use in treating conditions such as hemorrhoids.

Instructors recommend inexperienced practitioners and pregnant women consult a qualified yoga instructor or physician before attempting this pose.

Sarvangasana is a counter pose for backbends such as Chakrasana. Viparita Karani - the "legs up the wall" pose - is a common modification. Matsyasana is a counter pose. Halasana is often taken as a transitional pose to enter and exit Sarvangasana.


Headstand Pose
Intermediate

Headstand Pose | Sirsasana

Form: Inyengar

Description: Sirsasana (also Shirshasana or Sirshasana) is a yoga asana (or posture) in which the body is completely inverted, and held upright supported by the forearms, while the crown of the head rests lightly on the floor. It is known as the king of yoga asanas.

Practitioners of yoga believe that, like most inverted positions, the practice of sirsasana may increase the flow of blood to the brain, improve memory and other intellect functions. It is believed to rejuvenate the body and mind and regulate the flow of energy (prana) in the body.

After finishing this asana, head is not raised immediately, but forehead is rested on the floor for a minute.

The pose is contraindicated in the following situations: high blood pressure, heart palpitations, glaucoma, detached retina, conjunctivitis, brain disease, brain injury, menstruation, obesity, neck injury, and back injury. If you are pregnant, consult with your physician or qualified yoga instructor before doing this pose. This pose must be exited immediately if one is about to cough, sneeze or yawn. This pose is not recommended for young children.

Consult with a qualified yoga instructor before attempting Sirasana. This is an advanced pose and should not be attempted until one has practiced a good deal of the less demanding asanas such as forward and backward bends, twists, etc. and developed a good deal of muscle strength in the neck, back, and shoulder regions. Breath control and balance are also essential.

There are differing opinions between yoga schools on the correct technique for Sirsasana.

The wall may be used for support in this pose. Some yoga suppliers offer props that allow practitioners to perform a modified version of the pose. Dolphin pose (ardha sirsasana) can be used to build the upper body strength required for Sirsasana.

Balasana (child's pose) is often held for a few breaths before and after Sirsasana. It is not wise to transition to a seated or standing position immediately following Sirsasana.

Sirsasana is typically practiced within the Iyengar Yoga system, and is also part of the closing sequence for the full Primary Series in Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga. Several other yoga systems practice the pose. One notable exception is Bikram Yoga, in which inversions are not performed. There are mixed opinions in the yoga community as to whether Sirasana should be performed before or after Sarvangasana.


Headstand (variation) Pose
Intermediate

Headstand Pose (variation) | Sirsasana

Form: Inyengar

Description: Sirsasana (also Shirshasana or Sirshasana) is a yoga asana (or posture) in which the body is completely inverted, and held upright supported by the forearms, while the crown of the head rests lightly on the floor. It is known as the king of yoga asanas.

Practitioners of yoga believe that, like most inverted positions, the practice of sirsasana may increase the flow of blood to the brain, improve memory and other intellect functions. It is believed to rejuvenate the body and mind and regulate the flow of energy (prana) in the body.

After finishing this asana, head is not raised immediately, but forehead is rested on the floor for a minute.

The pose is contraindicated in the following situations: high blood pressure, heart palpitations, glaucoma, detached retina, conjunctivitis, brain disease, brain injury, menstruation, obesity, neck injury, and back injury. If you are pregnant, consult with your physician or qualified yoga instructor before doing this pose. This pose must be exited immediately if one is about to cough, sneeze or yawn. This pose is not recommended for young children.

Consult with a qualified yoga instructor before attempting Sirasana. This is an advanced pose and should not be attempted until one has practiced a good deal of the less demanding asanas such as forward and backward bends, twists, etc. and developed a good deal of muscle strength in the neck, back, and shoulder regions. Breath control and balance are also essential.

There are differing opinions between yoga schools on the correct technique for Sirsasana.

The wall may be used for support in this pose. Some yoga suppliers offer props that allow practitioners to perform a modified version of the pose. Dolphin pose (ardha sirsasana) can be used to build the upper body strength required for Sirsasana.

Balasana (child's pose) is often held for a few breaths before and after Sirsasana. It is not wise to transition to a seated or standing position immediately following Sirsasana.

Sirsasana is typically practiced within the Iyengar Yoga system, and is also part of the closing sequence for the full Primary Series in Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga. Several other yoga systems practice the pose. One notable exception is Bikram Yoga, in which inversions are not performed. There are mixed opinions in the yoga community as to whether Sirasana should be performed before or after Sarvangasana.


Headstand in Lotus Pose
Intermediate

Headstand in Lotus Pose | Padma Sirsasana

Form: Inyengar

Description: see headstand above.


Handstand
Intermediate

Handstand | Adho Mukha Vrksasana

Form: Hatha

Description: Adho Mukha Vrksasana translates to "downward facing tree".


Plow Pose
All Levels

Plow Pose | Halasana

Form: Hatha

Description: hala (plow) and asana (pose), Sanskrit हलसन, is a yoga posture in which the practitioner lies on the floor, lifts the legs, and then places them behind the head.

This pose can put significant strain on the cervical spine, which does not normally undergo this type of stress, and can cause injury if not performed properly.

As alternatives, simply lying on the back and raising the legs into a hamstring stretch, or doing a seated forward bend may be appropriate.


Ear Pressure Pose
All Levels

Ear Pressure Pose | Karṇapīḍāsana

Form: Hatha

Description:


Feathered Peacock Pose
Intermediate

Feathered Peacock Pose | Pincha Mayurasana

Form: Hatha

Description: This posture resembles a peacock (Hindi: Mayur), hence the name. In this yoga posture oneself is raised like a horizontal stick holding the floor with both the palms with the support of elbows.

This is an effective method for weakness of semen. It is very helpful for diabetic patients. It is best asana for strengthen arms, shoulders, abdomen and back. This asana is very effective for digestive organs. The asana stimulates and enhances the pranic flow to the pericardium meridians It is helpful to calm the brain and helps relieving stress and mild depression.


Intense Stretch Locust A
Advanced

Intense Stretch Locust A Pose | Uttana Salabhasana A

Form: Hatha

Description: From Ashtanga's Fifth & Sixth Series.


Intense Stretch Locust B
Advanced

Intense Stretch Locust B Pose | Uttana Salabhasana B

Form: Hatha

Description: From Ashtanga's Fifth & Sixth Series.