Inversion Drills

Inversion Drills

Conquer Fear Through Technique

SIRSASANA

INVERSION DRILLS

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:

  1. Avidya: Ignorance
  2. Asmita: Ego
  3. Raga: Attachment
  4. Dvesha: Aversion
  5. 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

HEADSTAND DRILLS

Once you look at inversions through the lens of raga and dvesha, Matt explains that there are 2 next steps to follow:

  1. Become aware of what you avoid and attach to.
  2. 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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HANDSTAND DRILLS

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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LISTEN TO THE FEAR

Fear has a loud voice. What you do with it will determine your path. That voice can push you away from something magical that’s waiting for you, or it can provide you with better connection to your own discernment. If the message is to take action, to conquer that fear, then reverse engineer your steps. In your yoga practice, lock into the techniques that quiet the voice of fear and strengthen your ability. If your focus and awareness are placed on those actions rather than the fear, you’ve already conquered it. The better choice may be to not engage, and this is also a powerful option. Either way, you are more confident in your decision-making and your ability to select what’s right for you. Take action to find the right path by registering for Matt’s 15-Hour Chromatic Yoga Immersion.

See you on the mat!

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Neck Alignment

Neck Alignment

Techniques to Find More Ease in Headstand

sirsasana

NECK ALIGNMENT FOR INVERSIONS

Yoga postures typically start “from the feet up.” The same is true when it comes to inversions—it’s just flipped upside down. The positioning of the head and neck sets the foundation, so finding balance can be quite challenging.  

Inversions can be scary stuff, and there’s plenty of legitimate fear to go around. With inversions, the neck becomes “the feet” of the posture, and neck alignment will directly inform your experience. Proper alignment, along with the technique of “pressing your head back,” will strengthen your neck muscles and provide you with the stability required for this posture. In today’s video, Matt breaks down how this technique will provide you with confidence and help you overcome your fears in Headstand.

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PRESS YOUR HEAD BACK

The fear of going upside down and placing weight on your neck can be enough to put you off of the posture all together, but the technique of pressing your head back can restore your faith in your ability to execute Headstand with assurance. One of the best ways to practice this technique is upright. Before you consider the strength, consider the neck alignment. Pulling your skull up and back will bring your head more in line with your spinal column and pelvis. Matt explains that this will place your cervical spine into a more concave shape, rather than the common convex shape that occurs due to a frequently forward carriage of the head. At the beginning of the video, you’ll see that the next step is to press your head into your thumbs. These steps are important to explore before you place any weight on your head in inversions.  

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NECK ALIGNMENT: TECHNIQUES TO FIND MORE EASE IN HEADSTAND

HEADSTAND PREPARATION

Once you feel more comfortable with the neck alignment cues, moving on to the next step in Headstand preparation means exploring those cues in Dolphin Pose. What also needs to be discussed here are the options you have in terms of the amount of weight you opt to place on your head.  

At the initial stages of the setup, creating protraction and elevation in the shoulders will help you find more length in the back of your neck and also assist in keeping your head off of the ground. This will make the shift towards taking the back of your head away from your elbows and closer to your hands much easier. The key step, however, is the plantar flexion of your feet in order to make this shift. Next, pressing your head into your hands (more specifically your thumbs) will assist in strengthening your neck muscles.

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  • Get certified and highly qualified to teach yoga
  • Yoga Alliance Globally Recognized Certification Program
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HEADSTAND WITH BLOCKS

You now know that pointing your toes will assist in stacking the pelvis over the shoulders, but hamstring flexibility is also required. Gaining the appropriate amount of hamstring flexibility will not happen overnight. This is where elevating your feet on blocks is extremely helpful. Using blocks creates a shorter distance for you to create the stacking you need in order to lift your legs. If you’re not ready to take flight in this way, then practice the stacking by moving back and forth between plantar flexion and dorsiflexion at the ankle joint. This will help you gain a deeper understanding of where your body needs to be in space.  

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  • Get 500 hour certified
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  • Masterful sequencing and verbal delivery
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UP AGAINST THE WALL

Not knowing where your body is in space is a reason you might choose to practice up against a wall, and this is a great decision, especially when you want to send your legs up in the air.  

You may, however, feel like you are up against a figurative wall when trying to “crack the code” for Headstands. It is possible to start depending on the wall for security, which is why implementing the technique of pressing your head into your hands can completely transform your experience. Once you do that, you can feel everything else fall into place: The action encourages the bottom ribs to knit back, which can then send the pelvis over the shoulders. The beauty of using the wall is that you have time to more deeply understand the cues while it acts as your personal spotter.

Register for Matt’s Alignment Immersion to learn all of the cues that help you to safely practice Headstand.

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Article by Trish Curling

Video Extracted From: Alignment Immersion

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Heart Opening Education

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Hip Opening Without Knee Painhip mobilityHIP OPENING WITHOUT KNEE PAIN "Hip opening” in a yoga class just sounds glorious if we feel confined or constricted in this area of the body and our intention is to transform this experience. The term may not sound glorious,...

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Yoga Props and Your PracticealignmentYOGA PROPS AND YOUR PRACTICE When it comes to incorporating yoga props into our yoga practice, we can take 1 of 2 paths. We either subscribe to the notion that if we use props, we are somehow “less capable” than others in the...

read more

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  • the Technique Pack: 15 yoga pose breakdowns
  • exclusive online course discounts
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  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

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