Couple doing upside down yoga inversions

Yoga inversions are some of the most fun and rewarding parts of a yoga practice. They look very impressive, but if you go step by step, you can certainly master them all.

There are dozens of flashy variations for each inverted pose, but they all build on a solid base: balance and correct alignment.

Practicing these poses will yield amazing health benefits. All yoga inversions will:

  • Improve circulation
  • Improve digestion
  • Decrease fluid build-up in the legs and feet
  • Lengthen the spine
  • Strengthen the entire body, especially the core and shoulders

You might also find that when you go upside-down, you get a new perspective on life.

Balance in these yoga inversions is so challenging that you have to concentrate intensely to succeed.

Remember:

There’s no space in your mind for worries.

With this focus, you’ll naturally find a new kind of courage, confidence and active relaxation.

1. Sarvangasana Yoga Pose

The Sarvangasana Yoga Inversion: lay on back with feet high in the air and hands on lower back

A shoulder stand is one of the easiest yoga inversions accessible to almost anyone who practices yoga regularly.

Start by lying on your back, knees bent. Kick your feet over your head and slowly straighten your legs until you’re balancing on your shoulders.

Support your back with your hands, keeping your elbows in and pressed to the floor.

While you hold shoulder stand, never turn your head from side to side.

Look softly up towards your feet or – better yet – close your eyes.

Sarvangasana is great for blood flow, digestion and the immune system. It’s surprisingly relaxing. You might find yourself meditating in it.

It reduces stress while strengthening your back and abdominal muscles at the same time.

2. Sirsasana Yoga Pose

Sirsasana Yoga Inversion: stand on head with elbows on ground and arms toward your head

The headstand is often called the “king of asanas.”

It’s one of the most important classical yoga inversions, beloved for its activation of the crown chakra.

It has a lot of physical benefits too. Like all inverted yoga poses, it reverses the pull of gravity, doing wonders for circulation and the spine. It improves blood flow to the brain, scalp and eyes.

Because Sirsasana is easier to maintain than other inversions, it allows you to maximize the effects of going upside-down.

When held for long enough, it’s one of the best yoga poses for lifting a dark mood!

The headstand is easier than it looks, but start off slow with ardha sirsasana, or half-headstand.

For this pose, kneel and clasp your hands together, holding in your bottom pinkie finger. Place your forearms on the floor in a triangle shape, shoulder-width apart.

Put your head on the floor so it rests in your hands.

The top of your forehead, right above the hairline, should bear your weight. (NOT the crown of your head!)

Now straighten your legs. You’ll be in a triangle shape, half your weight on your head and half on your toes.

When you feel strong here, practice pulling your knees into your chest one at a time.

Eventually, using your abdominals, you will be able to pull both knees in at the same time.Tip your hips

Tip your hips ever so slightly back to maintain the balance over your base.

From here, slowly straighten your legs.

In the full headstand, feel like your forearms are pressing into the ground and your shoulder blades wrap around your back. Be strong in your core to keep your back from arching.

When you’re done, come down slowly, the same way you went up. Rest in child’s pose for at least 60 seconds afterward.

3. Pincha Mayurasana Yoga Pose

Pincha Mayurasana Yoga Inversion: balance on elbows with arms facing forward and feet straight in the air

The forearm stand is a fun and challenging pose for building balance, core muscles and shoulder strength.

It’s also an essential preparation for the scorpion pose.

Prepare for the forearm stand with a forearm plank and dolphin pose.

The dolphin pose (ardha pincha mayurasana) is just like half-headstand but with the forearms straight, palms flat and head above the ground.

Yoga Dolphin Pose: arch your back and have your elbows flat on the ground and arms facing forward with head on the ground
A young woman performs the dolphin pose

From the dolphin pose, stretch one leg up at a time until you can bring both up at once.

In the forearm stand, your main enemy is “banana back:” your shoulders collapse and your legs swing too far over your base, hinging your back.

To avoid this, broaden through your shoulder blades, drawing in your inner ribs and stretching up with your tailbone. You want to feel a straight, strong line from the crown of your head up through the base of your big toe.

It helps to learn with props.

Try looping a yoga strap and placing it around your upper arms. This gives you something to brace against and keeps your arms from bulging out. As in the headstand, they should be no wider than your shoulders.

4. Handstand Yoga Inversions

Yoga Handstand Inversion: two women performing a handstand with legs resting on the wall

While not a traditional asana, handstands can help your practice a lot.

Handstands strengthen and tone the whole body. They demand a lot of balance, concentration and courage: all very important for any yogi!

Start with a half-handstand against the wall.

Come into it from a downward dog with your heels against a wall. Keeping your hands in place, walk your feet up the wall until your legs are parallel to the ground. Your hips are over your shoulders and your spine is in its natural curves.

This is the upper-body alignment you want for your handstand.

From either a half-handstand or downward dog, practice raising one leg at a time.

For the full pose, I recommend starting from a downward dog with your hands close to a wall.

Once you’re up, press actively into the floor with your hands while stretching up through the balls of your feet.

It’s more important here than ever to broaden through your back and shoulder blades.

Whether or not you ever take your handstand away from the wall, this yoga inversion will have the same great effects on your body and mind.

Which Yoga Inversion Do You Like the Most?

We hope this list of yoga inversions has helped you improve your own yoga poses!

Let us know in the comment section below which yoga inversion you find to be the best for your body!

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