Inverted Action Postures

The candle posture described above is demanding, and should not be approached without a lot of preparation: gradually getting accustomed to being in postures in which the hips are higher than the shoulders; gradually getting accustomed to more and more flexion of the neck; slowly becoming confident in balancing the body as a whole in a posture that is more and more perpendicular to the floor; and becoming familiar with the different methods of actuating and supporting the dozen or so postures that make up the shoidderstand series and its sequelae. We'll begin with the inverted action postures.

Technically, inverted action means upside down, but in most yoga traditions, "the inverted action posture" refers to viparitakarani mudra, in which the lower extremities are perpendicular to the floor, the torso is at a 45-60° angle from the floor, and the pelvis is supported by the elbows, forearms, and wrists. We'll first examine some easier variations that can lead systematically to the shoulderstand.

Even though most of the inverted action postures ar e not as dif ficult as the shoulderstand, they confer some of the same benefits and are particularly useful for older people. The first two variations that follow are of special value to anyone who is fearful of being upended. And like the headstand, the

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shoulderstand and the inverted action postures are contraindicated for anyone with high blood pressure, for women who are pregnant or in their menstrual period, or for anyone with osteoporosis. Being substantially overweight is another obvious contraindication. Those who are uncertaii as to whether or not they should proceed will find the following tw< variations safe for beginning experimentation.

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