I’d seen the hashtag for a long time before I realised! I still saw it as ‘other’, those clever people who can do that stuff. I think, because, I was still focussed on where I needed to go, rather than what I had become. Looking at the photos in this blog, I’m smiling, I’ve achieved some stuff. Stuff I NEVER thought possible at the beginning or even halfway through. I had faith in the process, that training made me feel good in the short term. On that day. (Check out my blog Little by Little for motivation on getting started)
As you grow stronger on the journey you naturally try new moves and often don’t realise they’re impressive until you see someone’s reaction! Check out my instagram… for more. And here’s some of my you tube links: headstand on beam, assisted headstand on beam, Olympic Rings.
My goal was and still is to conquer handstand, by which I mean hold it at will no support and eventually on parallel bars. It’s taken me a long time because I developed headstand strength first, which is more core and neck. And for handstand, despite strong wrists for barwork (pull ups, push ups, dips) and punching, my 90 degree wrist strength needed a lot of work and shoulders loosening.
However once I took a step back and gathered my thoughts I realised, that despite all the work that I have to do on inversions, that I too was a #inversion addict! (about 40% of my instagram shots are me up-side-down lol).
It began 9 years ago, it shocks me to say that, feels so recent and so distant at the same time. I’d been working in the office on and off for 10 years (minus 3 years for study). I had dabbled in some dance classes and mini workouts before a long steam but in short I had zero fitness, zero strength and absolutely no core. At 28 I still looked fine on the outside but I could feel something was wrong on the inside and the rest would soon follow if I didn’t do anything. A looming darkness that something wasn’t right; IBS symptoms, depression, SAD, anxiety and insomnia. I had no idea what the answer was at the time and that training would become my new way of life.
I tried a yoga class at work and realised something profound: I felt like I should be able to do the moves but I couldn’t; it was weird seeing people holding one legged stances and pulling off headstands, I was shocked to the core. What had happened to me? I was really active at school. I didn’t know at this point that you could change your body to be able to do the movement you want (through A LOT of hardwork :)).
I was a long way off a headstand, in fact 4 years off (training for around 4 hours a day 5 times a week). Your body knows when it’s not ready and I wasn’t ready. Some people were and I now know why; they had core.
[Piece of advice, when someone tries to tell you you’re lacking confidence because you don’t want to try something, ignore them, your body knows best. It’s moments like these when you get injured. Your body will naturally want to try a new move when it’s ready.]
Inversions are for all levels of ability
Inversions, however, are for everybody of all levels. An inversion at it’s most basic level is standing up on straight legs, bending over and letting your head hang. All the way up to gymnastics bars, olympic rings, flips, headstands, parallel bars…
no handed ankle weight headstand
Balance mind body and soul
They are an invaluable way of balancing the body system: physically, emotionally, mentally (and spiritually, in brackets because you can ignore it if you wish).
Physically you are putting your heart and lungs above your head. This is calming. It lowers the blood pressure (so any conditions of this nature ask your doctor if it’s ok.)
If you’re feeling mentally stressed it helps clear the mind just by holding your head upside down. If you put your head in the soil you’re ‘grounding’ your body too!
Naturally you feel emotionally calmer from being still, focusing on breathing and lowering your head; extreme emotions like fear and anxiety seem to be balanced by the physical system working against gravity and pumping blood the other way.
How to use an inversion in day to day situations
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If you’re in a stressful environment or dealing with a difficult situation I highly recommend taking a minute out to go to quiet spot, empty meeting room, or even the toilet, put your back against the wall and lean over. This will stretch your hamstrings as well. Let your head hang as long as is comfortable, then gently raise, take a few deep breathes once in the up right position before moving. Make a note of how you feel after!
I find submissive poses (like the one below and the one described above where you’re not exerting yourself like in a handstand) help release painful knots in my back and realign my spine after tension.
Finally an excellent way to cool down..
Hence my brand logo: my all time favourite go to move in any stressful situation: THE PLOUGH!
Even for those who have no interest in being upside down, I still recommend it to give the joints a break from the usual angle of force and pressure that you do in your regular training. Much like swimming it gives the lower body joints a break. And it is an excellent way to cool down from a workout.
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