I went to an inversion workshop at Yoga Vida’s Broadway location last night led by Jessie Barr. The studio is lovely and the space was inviting. There were maybe 20 students at the most and Jessie was very attentive and did a wonderful job of explaining how to get in to each position carefully and mindfully. I was reminded once again that breathing plays. She also explained how important not only core strength but the strength of your legs (specifically your thighs) as well. She had us do some inversions with blocks between our thighs to really see the difference focusing on your legs while balancing on your arms could make.
Before getting in to the inversions, we paired off and did some work massaging each others’ wrists in preparation for the work to come. Not Jessie’s fault at all but my partner did absolutely nothing for me here. When I practice at home, I will see if I can convince my husband to do the massages on my wrists because I can see how it would make a difference.
Handstand: We started with handstands working with partners. Jessie showed us ways to support each other – making us each feel safe and secure while upside down in a room full of people we didn’t know. She stressed that we should make a controlled movement to get up in to the handstand and control the descent as well. Controlling the body on they way down is a way to practice a controlled assent. Controlling the assent, even when you have the wall behind you as a safety (or a partner spotting you) prepares you to one day do the handstand in the middle of the room. We’ll see.
Forearm Stand: This is the one that frightened me the most. This is the one where Jessie told us to concentrate on our legs as much as our arms. She showed us how to properly space our arms and hands and (most importantly) to have our arms at 90° angle. Using the wall, and in the stance she told us to draw up and out of our shoulders. She reminded us that we should never ask our muscles to do the work of bones. Basically, don’t force something.
Head Stand: I am pretty confident in my headstand but what was great to learn here was that from headstand I can move in to forearm stand. Starting with hands in a fist I moved up in to headstand. Once secure, I moved my hands to prayer and then one at a time to the floor and finally so that they were in line with my elbows. From there I used the strength in my hands and forearms to straighten my back and lift my head up off the ground and finally elevate it enough to look up and out. Exciting!
Shoulder Stand: We ended with shoulder stand which felt great after all that pressure on my wrists. We put two blankets under our shoulder blades for support which also felt wonderful.
She closed by reminding us all that the poses don’t give us confidence, they reveal the confidence that was already there.