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Week 8: Inversions, Focus and Awareness

This weekend, we worked on our handstands and also practised other inversions and arm balances. We all love challenging ourselves and getting every improvement we can, to get into these difficult poses. It is definitely the most physically demanding aspect of asana and common among practitioners to aim to achieve. For me, I have wished and dreamt for the longest time to be able to hold a pincha mayurasana/handstand, and every new arm balance I try still gives me exhilaration. That sense of achievement is something we all seek and enjoy.

But besides the superficial perks from inversions such as looking fancy, physical fitness and ability, or simply enjoying the thrill, I think inversions and arm balances also train the mind. The more obvious benefits from attempting these asanas would be perseverance (how many times have we fallen or failed before we can get 1 successful 0.5 second hold?), and focus. What is the most challenging for me, more so when going upside down than balancing on hands, is body awareness and knowing how to control isolated muscle groups to get into alignment. I have tried countless times to tuck in my ribs when upside down, but it is so difficult to even locate my ribs. Jess’ assistance by pinching my ribs/tummy while upside down helped me in getting a better sense of how/what to engage. I also find that it helps to tuck in everything while still on the ground, and trying to maintain that on the way up. I think my problem is releasing the core on the way up. I also tend to forget plugging the hip into the hip socket, which contributes to backbending when kicking up.

Maybe training my mental ability to control muscle groups while upside down might help my pincha/handstand practice. I wonder if practising different variations in tripod headstand/supported headstand would help?

Michelle Cheung
200 Hour YTT Feb-May’21