Looking for a way to get that glowing, just-came-out-of-a-spa look, without the hefty price tag? Inverted yoga poses could be the answer. They help stimulate your skin by nourishing the internal organs and increasing the blood circulation within your whole body, giving you natural glowing skin. How so, exactly? When you invert the body, more oxygen, nutrients and blood are able to flow towards the face, boosting your complexion and creating the effect of a gentle, needle-free face-lift.
Sun salutations are a great way to warm up your body and increase circulation. It’s no wonder all classes start with a few sun salutations; it’s the official warm up to any vinyasa flow.
If you’re new to yoga and don’t know your sun’s from your moon’s or eagles, get a yoga app or try a beginners class. In the meantime, here’s a quick breakdown of the sequence if you want to try it at home, and keep in mind: one breath, one movement.
- Tadasana (inhale): Standing at the top of your mat, circle your arms above you as you inhale, reach for the ceiling.
- Forward fold (exhale): Bring your hands to prayer in front of you at your heart centre as you exhale, bow all the way forward to touch your mat (you can bend your knees as needed).
- Halfway lift (inhale): Bring your hands to your shins for a halfway lift, flatten your back and pull your shoulders away from your ears as you take a breath in.
- Forward fold (exhale)– Step back into a plank (inhale): As you forward fold from your halfway lift, plant your hands on the mat then step your feet back so that your body is now in a plank shape, parallel to the floor. If a plank is a bit too intense for your lower back, drop your knees until you build up the strength to hold a full plank.
- High-to-low plank (Exhale): From plank, on your knees or otherwise, start to lower your body to the ground keeping your elbows close to your body. Try not to hunch and dump into your shoulders.
- Cobra or upward dog (inhale): Once you’re on the ground, your hands should be directly under your shoulders as you lift your upper body into Cobra. For a more intense back bend, push yourself up onto your hands, engaging your thighs (they should be off the mat), tops of the feet also pushing down onto the mat.
- Downward dog (Exhale): Transitioning from downward dog takes a little getting use to. From your cobra or upward dog, hinge your hips up as if you were to come into a pike, and flip your feet back to their normal stance so that the soles of your feet are now back onto the mat. Push back and away from the mat with your hands, trying to pull your biceps behind your ears.
There you go! That was one sun salutation. Don’t worry; it gets easier as you repeat. Just look between your hands, walk to the top of your mat, and start again. The blood will be flowing in no time.
Wide legged forward fold (Prasarita Padottanasana)
Bring your feet into a wide stance on either side of your mat, about a foot wider than hip width apart, or whatever is comfortable for you. Hands on your hips, start to hinge forward at the waist, bowing forward until your hands and head are on the mat. You can widen your stance as necessary. Take 5-10 breaths in this pose. Bonus, it also doubles as a great inner thigh and hamstring stretch!
Twisted chair pose (Parivrtta Utkatasana)
Not an inversion in the traditional sense, but a great twist to detox the liver and organs to pump fresh, cleansed blood through your body. From a squat with your knees hip width apart (also known as Chair Pose in yogi terms) bring your hands to prayer and twist to your right, using your left elbow to hook around your right knee. Try and keep both hips square, so look down to make sure your knees are in track with each other. Using your elbow as a lever, twist from your torso and look up at the sky. Hold for 4-5 breaths then switch sides.
Dolphin Pose (Ardhda Pincha Mayurasana)
Dolphin is a great shoulder and core workout in addition to being a modified version of downward dog. From a plank position on your forearms, start to walk your feet towards your face, sending your sitting bones up and pressing your hands and forearms firmly into the mat. You can straighten your knees, or if your lower back is rounding then bend them as much as you need.
Shoulder stand (Sarvangasana)
Shoulder stand is an accessible inversion since it can be done using a block under your sacrum or propping your hands under your lower back for support. Choose either one of these options as you are lying flat on your back. You can even use a wall as a prop and rest your legs against them. Make sure there is no added pressure onto the neck, and after a few breaths you can even transition into plough pose, with your knees bent and your feet above your head touching the floor. Shoulder stand and plough are a great way to reverse the pressure systems in the body and regenerate the blood flow.