This article will help you progress towards adding inversions and arm balances into your practice. If you are working towards crow pose, headstand, handstand, etc. these poses and exercises will help you build the proper foundation for those ventures!
Yoga for Upper body/core strength:
- Plank Pose – Come to the top of a push up. Plant the hands down firmly, grounding even the knuckles and finger tips. Stack the shoulders directly over the wrists. As you press the hands down (think of pressing the ground away from you), start to spread the shoulder blades and lift your upper spine toward the ceiling. Now keep that! And lower your hips in line with your shoulders. Flatten out your lower back and draw your navel towards your spine. Its okay bring the knees to the mat if you cannot flatten the lower back. You will still build strength and protect the spine. Hold your plank 2 times for 5 deep breaths with a 5 breath break between.
- Tiger Crunches – Start in plank with the excellent alignment you learned in Step 1.
- Take an inhale and slowly (as you exhale) bring your right knee to your tricep. Slowly inhale and extend back to plank.
- Repeat on the left side moving with the breath.
- Exhale to slowly bring the knees to hover an inch over the mat. Inhale back to plank. Repeat these three motions 5 times total.
- Crow Prep – Come to a Yogi Squat. Plant your hands on the ground shoulder distance apart. Walk your big toes together and bring your knees high onto your triceps. Bend your elbows chaturanga style so that they point back as opposed to pointing to the sides. Engage your core by drawing your navel back and up. Lift one heel to your butt. Hold for 5 breaths. Release and Repeat with the other foot.
- Chaturanga Hold and Pushups – I don’t recommend doing many of these. Go for quality over quantity. Keep them slow and move with a deep/long breath. Come to Plank Pose. As you exhale, bend the elbows straight back (not out to the sides, as this puts unwanted pressure on the wrists) bring the chest to hover between the elbows. Squeeze the elbows into the ribs. Inhale to slowly press back to Plank. Do 3 of these and then rest in Child’s Pose. Add more over time if you can keep pressing all areas of the hands down firmly, and avoid sagging the chest or dipping the lower back. The spine stays nice and long here. The core stays engaged by drawing the navel to the spine.
- Handstand Hops – From Chair Pose reach your arms forward and hover your chest over your thighs. Reach your hands down to the ground as you transfer weight to the hands and shift forward. Look between your hands and slowly hop your hips up. Attempt to stack them over the shoulders and kick yourself in the butt. Eventually, you might find air time where you hover. If not, no worries! Keep practicing it and just have fun.
My favorite way to practice inversions, namely Handstand right now, is to put on my favorite upbeat song and spend those 4-6 minutes just playing. I practice kicking up to handstand against the wall, in the middle of the room, and cartwheeling out (learning to exit safely helps relieve the fear of being upside down). The energy of the song keeps me inspired and the short but designated amount of time feels easy and manageable to do every day.
Good luck in your Inversion Practice! Comment below with any poses you want to learn.
Lots of Love,