Prana Apana and Going Upside Down
Inversions give us new perspective literally and energetically. They root us down, hold us still and move us inward. Inversions invoke a state of consciousness that demands presence. This takes us closer and closer to our essential and true nature which is bliss.
When we practice inversions, we are working with two main energies in the body: Prana and Apana. Prana above the diaphragm and always moving toward the head and Apana which is below the diaphragm and always moving towards the feet. Prana is the upward moving energy and Apana is the downward moving energy.
Prana in the chest is very dominant during the day. We are upright all of the time.When we turn upside down, we give prominence to APANA which is a more introspective and internalizing energy. Some say its a more feminine energy. I like to think of inversions as a shifting of perspective. Like a painter who turns his painting upside down to see it from another side, inversions create an introspective landscape within us and then flip us around. We start to see things differently. What once appeared to be out of reach or limited suddenly seems unlimited. Our perception of what we can do expands as old beliefs in our limitations are shaken and fall away. It is often said that magic is a shift in perception.
Inversions require strength, balance and time. Like all relationships, understanding and receptivity take time to grow. That's a natural and normal part of the process. Try to have a lighthearted approach to going upside down and play with the idea of being willing to fall.
Here are some of my favorite inversion preps to get you stable, steady and ready to go upside down. Have fun!
Great prep for Inversions
Dolphin Pose with fingers interlaced
Come onto the floor: hands + knees. Place your forearms on the floor. Bring your hands into a position like you are about to do a headstand. Fingers interlaced and head off the floor. Your forearms and hands are on the floor. Make sure your elbows are shoulder distance apart and a couple inches in front of the shoulders. Press down firmly from outer hands to elbows. Get down to get up! Make sure shoulders are not dropping toward the ears. As you press forearms actively into the floor, firm shoulder blades against your back, widen them away from the spine and draw them toward tailbone. Engage Uddiyana bandha.
Keep these key actions in the upper back and shoulders as you straighten legs and lift hips into Dolphin. If your back rounds, bend the knees.
Dolphin variation with Props:
Place block at lowest height between hands. Block is between the pointer finger and thumb. Inner edges of hands are framing the shorter sides of the block. This will prevent your hands from collapsing inward. Belt is looped around the arms just above the elbow. Press out into the belt as you ground the inner wrists and forearms down. Firm shoulder blades against your back, widen them away from the spine and draw them toward tailbone. Props will keep the forearms parallel.
Keep belt just above elbows and block between hands. Slowly walk feet out into a plank pose with forearms on the ground. Shoulders over elbows. Repeat key actions in the upper back and shoulders. Props will keep the forearms parallel. Lengthen tailbone to heels and lift front rim of the pelvis up. Engage belly. Do not let ribs collapse down to floor. Legs active.
Forearm Plank without props
Remove the belt and block. Return to forearm plank keeping the forearms parallel. Repeat key actions above.
Rest - set up for inversion practice at wall.