Some of the most elusive poses in yoga are inversions, asanas that place your heart above your head. And while more advanced moves like wheel and headstand fall into this category, so do many other beginner-friendly poses. The hardest part is knowing where to start—and how to stay safe.
In the latest episode of Good Moves, Nike master trainer Traci Copeland leads a 20-minute flow with inversions meant for beginners.
“I’m going to take you through some of the more classical inversion poses like headstand, handstand, crow pose. But inversions don’t always necessarily mean going upside down,” she says in the video. “You can also do a classical inversion like downward dog or forward fold, or straddle forward fold, or even something as simple as legs up the wall. It’s a great way to improve circulation, better balance, but it’s also a great way to work on core strength.”
When you flip your body upside down, your core works in a way it isn’t used to working, explains New York City-based trainer Meg Takacs.
“[Inverting] mixes up the regular muscle memory and puts your body in a new position,” she says. “Anytime you do that, you’re going to confuse your muscle memory and test new ways to move.”
In this video, Copeland starts off with a few downward dogs and low lunges to warm up. Next, she moves into malasana, a pose where you’re low in a sumo squat with your feet and knees pointing out on a diagonal and your hands meet at your chest in chair pose. This is a great place to start before heading into crow.
“[To do crow pose] I’m gonna have my weight in the heels of my hands and I’m gonna keep my hands on the ground, just gonna get used to having my weight in the hands,” she says. “When you feel comfortable you can just lift one toe and then maybe lift the other toe.” Alternate side to side in this three-legged crow until you’re comfortable. “And then when you’re ready, squeezing your core together lifting one leg up at a time and then holding right there, keeping your gaze out, outside of your fingertips.”
If you’ve never done crow before, it can definitely feel a little uncomfortable at first. Feel free to place a pillow at the top of your mat to create a little landing pad if you fall. To try crow (and other inversions) with Copeland, watch the video above. If you love it, be sure to subscribe to the Well+Good YouTube channel for more!