Inversions | iHanuman


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Yoga master, Erich Schiffmann, leads you through his afternoon practice of inversions and their many variations in this session designed for the intermediate and advanced yoga student. The practice includes preparatory poses, headstand and headstand variations, shoulderstand variation, an abdominal series, seated and reclining forward folds, seated twists, and deep relaxation. Produced and edited by Erich, this intensive practice allows you to revel in the stillness, strength and wonderful euphoria that comes from turning your world upside down.

by: Beth Cholette
In his 4-minute introduction to this practice, yoga master Erich Schiffmann explains that the entire video was created by him—not only the instructing, but also the filming, editing, etc. Therefore, as with all the videos in Erich’s Backyard series, there is no camera person; Erich remarks that the camera angles might be a bit off at times, but this is hardly noticeable as you move through the practice. Erich also suggests that Inversions is a “more intermediate” practice due to the inclusion of some “mildly advanced” poses. I believe he minimizes a bit here, as this session includes some quite challenging moves, but more on this later. As one might surmise from the title, Erich devotes a significant amount of time to inverted postures (approximately 21 minutes total), but this is also a full, 68-minute yoga practice, with much attention paid to the abdominals and hamstrings as well.Erich begins the session with a 7-minute warm-up sequence which incorporates long, slow holds of standing forward bend, squat, cat/cow, and down dog. From this he moves right into the first series of inversions, an 8-minute headstand sequence. Starting in one-legged headstand, Erich comes into full supported headstand (Erich performs the pose free-standing, but less experienced practitioners will benefit from the use of a wall here for balance assistance). Headstand variations include twisting headstand, splits, one-legged splits, and wide-legged headstand. Erich then states that shoulderstand is the traditional counter-pose to headstand, but before going into the shoulderstand work, he thoroughly warms up the abdominals with a series of abs prep moves as well as several levels of bridge pose (11 minutes total). Finally, Erich concludes the preparations for shoulderstand by rolling in and out of plow pose several times (very similar to the Pilates Roll-Over exercise).Now Erich embarks upon the 13-minute shoulderstand sequence. This series is even more challenging than the headstand work—it’s longer, and in addition to balance, it requires a good deal of strength and flexibility. Erich first rolls back into plow and performs knees-to-ears posture before lifting up into a hands-free shoulderstand (very tough!). He follows this with the traditional shoulderstand but moves into more difficult variations such as one-legged shoulderstand, side plow, one-legged bridge (lowering down from shoulderstand and then hopping back up), full bridge, and lastly, walk-around-the-head, a very tricky cycle that flows from bridge to side plow to plow and then back down around the other side of the body. Erich spends almost as much time in counter-poses as he does in the actual shoulderstand series. Here he notes that fish is the traditional counter-pose to shoulderstand, but he performs a fairly challenging variation of this posture which he calls “toe fish”—basically, he starts in a sort of squat, keeps his heels up, lowers the top of his head to the floor in the fish position, and then lowers his calves to the floor, almost as in reclined hero’s pose, which in fact he goes into following the fish posture. This entire sequence comes to an end with a squat and standing forward bend.The last active sequence of this video consists of seated forward bends. The first cycle (9 minutes) includes full seated forward bend, head-to-knee pose, and a reclined leg stretch series which concludes with a lovely full-body twist. Then it’s back to a seated position for the final 10-minute cycle: a wide-legged seated forward bend series (including twisting to each side and bending over each leg), a cobblers pose series, and a series of seated twists (full twist, bent leg twist, and sage 3 posture). Finally, Erich sets you up for savasana, spending about a minute to set up the posture and then allowing you to relax in silence while the credits roll (a bell rings after about 4 minutes).Sound pretty advanced? Well, yes, it is! Erich, who uses Sanskrit names for the postures almost exclusively, maintains that even beginners could get something out of simply watching the inversion sequences; while I agree with this, I would caution beginners or even low intermediates against attempting this practice. For these postures to be practiced safely, the practitioner needs to have not only prior familiarity with inversions (which Erich does not actually teach here) but also a strong knowledge of how to safely modify poses as necessary. Therefore, I would recommend this video only to very experienced high intermediate and advanced students. If you are in that category, however, this yoga session would an excellent means to build on and expand your inversions practice.
Erich Schiffmann Inversions
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73 minutes
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