Face Your Fears, Stand On Your Head!

April Saunders
Face Your Fears, Stand On Your Head!

The health benefits of putting yourself upside down are many; improved circulation to the head and neck, stimulation of the thyroid gland, reducing fatigue, and relaxation of the heart in the pericardium. But have you also heard that these yoga postures help with overcoming fear? Yup! They do!

There is nothing scarier than uncertainty. Think about it. Are you really afraid of the dark? Or is it the uncertainty about what is hiding in the dark that scares you? Okay, silly example, but you get it.

On Inversions and Uncertainty

Being upside down is not natural. We were meant to walk on two feet, not to stand on our head or hands. But that’s the beauty of inversion postures in yoga. It takes us somewhere we would not otherwise go.

Inversions cause uncertainty. Uncertainty about our surroundings which have just (literally) been turned around. Uncertainty about our body position in relation to space. Uncertainty about our ability to sustain a posture that is so unnatural and awkward. And, yes, there is also the fear of falling.

Inversions are practiced a lot in group yoga classes that target individuals dealing with addiction or depression. That’s because they challenge this uneasy feeling we get when things are turned upside down. It reproduces the sense of fear which is caused by the uncertainty induced by standing on your head. If we can deal with these things on a physical level, say, in yoga class, the opportunity for success in a real-life situation is greater.

Finding Success In Inversions

The first step in finding success in an inversion posture is to come to your breath. A steady breath leads to a steady mind, and vice versa. If you are having trouble with your inversion, consider an external emotional cause. When the mind is full of worry (conscious or unconscious), the breath is restricted, and inversions and balancing postures are more difficult.

Maybe Sirsasana (headstand) is not an option for you. The beginner version is simply to lie on your back with your seat against the wall and bring your feet up. This is a great way to take Savasana, too. Sarvangasana (shoulder stand), Halasana (plow), and plow variation with knees hugging the ears (Karnapidasana) are other examples. These can all be practiced at home.

Start with 5 breaths in each posture, and increase slowly to 15-20 breaths, remembering that an asana is a steady and comfortable posture. It is better to come out of a posture if it is not steady and comfortable for you, than to force it. Once you have found comfort and steadiness in your inversion asana, close your eyes. Visualize your heart relaxing in the chest, oxygenated blood being delivered to your face and head, and activation of your thyroid and pineal glands.

Imagine the energy in your top three chakras; throat, third-eye, and lotus. Visualization is key to receiving the full benefits of the posture. Finding steadiness and comfort in your inversion space will translate to being comfortable with fear and uncertainty in other aspects of your life.

Namaste.