Are you the type of person who avoids inversions altogether, or do you eagerly await the option in your yoga classes?
Matt infuses Chromatic yoga with the philosophies of ancient Tantric yoga to help you acquire a more in-depth understanding of your own thought processes, decision-making, and patterns. One of the ways you can more closely connect to the reason for either a fear (resistance) or an attachment (attraction) regarding inversions is through the conditioning (samskaras) you have about your ability to achieve inversions. This is why the Chromatic approach is always systematic—you’re encouraged to take incremental steps towards your desired actions and new patterning. Utilizing the inversion drills from today’s video is a step towards understanding your relationship with fear and learning about how technique can quiet your resistance towards them.
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IS FEAR WORKING FOR YOU OR AGAINST YOU?
Feling fear about inversions or even inversion drills doesn’t mean that something is wrong with you. You’re not required to change your feelings about them just to work them into your asana practice. That’s not what understanding your relationship to fear means. Fear may be what protects you. You may have an injury or condition that may amplify if you don’t use your good judgment and stay away from inversions. In the full class, Matt discusses how fear is a kind of protective mechanism. It can help you to sort through whether or not the fear is valid. The thing is, it’s up to you to decide if working beyond it will create positive transformation, like confidence and strength, or if it might be more damaging. It’s quite alright to fear something and make a decision not to engage in that particular thing.
THE 5 KLESHAS
How does this relate to the Yoga Sutras? In Tantra of the Yoga Sutras, author Alan Finger states the following:
“The five kleshas are what cause the mind to become engrossed in the belief patterns that create mental disequilibrium and psychological distress.”
Here are the 5 kleshas:
- Avidya: Ignorance
- Asmita: Ego
- Raga: Attachment
- Dvesha: Aversion
- Abhinivesha: Fear of Death
Finger, Alan. Tantra of the Yoga Sutras. Pg. 42 (Yoga Sutra 2.3)
In this particular class, Matt points to raga and dvesha in relation to inversions and inversion drills. Raga here means that you are keen to practice inversions because, for example, they are familiar, or you already feel confident practicing them. Dvesha, being the opposite, may come from your fear or lack of confidence in your ability.
WATCH THE VIDEO
INVERSION DRILLS: CONQUER THE FEAR THROUGH TECHNIQUE
Once you look at inversions through the lens of raga and dvesha, Matt explains that there are 2 next steps to follow:
- Become aware of what you avoid and attach to.
- Practice taking action in the direction of what is appropriate for you.
In headstands, there may already be aspects you are comfortable with. If it’s appropriate for you to move forward, Matt offers techniques that will strengthen your confidence.
First, he makes a connection to Handstand by pointing out that whether you are practicing on your head or your hands, the same principle applies: lean and resist. You lean forward to go upright, but then you must resist to prevent yourself from falling. There are muscle engagements that will help you to find your balance. In the headstand inversion drills, pressing your head back into your hands while pressing your fists and forearms into the ground will allow your neck muscles to become your brakes.
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In handstands, one of the prominent activations comes from the forearms; this is done by gripping the ground. As in the inversion drills for Headstand, you can make use of other props to find better access to “lean and resist.” Keep in mind that it’s not all about strength. Hamstring flexibility supports your ability to go upright. In these inversion drills, Matt makes great use of blocks and a chair as a way to minimize the amount of hamstring flexibility that is required.
These tools play a role in the incremental steps he’s talking about. The props are used as a way to mitigate fear. You also become deeply immersed in technique, which creates a rise in ability and confidence. In the video, you’ll see the attention placed on things like the articulation of your feet, your pelvis, and even your distance from the wall. These are important specifics that will transform your experience.
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