Inversions Workshop | iHanuman


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Inversions Workshop

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Recorded in May 2010 at Studio Bamboo in Virginia Beach Virginia.There are three recorded sessions in this workshop including Menopause, Inversions and Backbends. This two hour yoga session focuses on the preparatory poses to practice inversions with an extensive look at variations on Handstand, Adho Mukha Vrksasana, and Headstand, Sirsasana Included with this class is an Illustrated Pose List created specifically for this class by Bobby Clennell.

The class is geared toward Intermediate and ongoing practitioners of Yoga and is not recommended for Beginners. The props required for this class are: A Wall, 4 Blankets, A Chair, A Strap and 2 Blocks. This is an audio recording, but please view our video playlist of poses from the workshop.

People Who Have Taken This Class: 
by: Beth Cholette
This 2-hour session was recorded when Iyengar Yoga instructor Bobby Clennell visited Studio Bamboo in Virginia Beach for a series of weekend workshops in May 2010. When you order this audio, you will also receive a PDF file containing an illustrated pose list drawn by Clennell herself, a former professional film animator; this file provides a helpful supplement to Clennell’s audio instruction (although it is not always 100% accurate as noted below). In addition, at right you can find a link to more information about this series, including video samples from the other two workshops available on iHanuman. The Inversions Workshop is described as being intended for intermediate students; more specifically, I think it would be helpful for practitioners to have prior experience with the inversions covered here, including handstand, forearm balance, headstand, and shoulderstand. Finally, it is important that users have available the required props as noted in the class description, as these will be used extensively throughout the class.To start, Clennell instructs the class to come to a comfortable seated position on several folded blankets. She has the participants take a few minutes here before leading the group in chanting three rounds of “ohm.” Clennell then explains that prior to beginning the inversions, she likes to focus on getting the brain/head quiet, and so she opens with a sequence of postures which includes child’s pose, down dog, and standing forward bend. Following this, Clennell leads her students through several variations of down dog performed at the wall using blocks under the hands to attain extra lift and openness through the shoulders. At the conclusion of this series (21 minutes into the workshop), Clennell tells the class that it is time for full arm balance, or handstand. She does not provide much instruction on this posture; rather, she encourages the participants to practice kicking up into the pose while she walks around the room assisting those who have trouble getting up. For those who are able to kick up into handstand, Clennell encourages them to attempt kicking up with the opposite leg. The entire handstand sequence is about 11 minutes long, and it is mostly free form as Clennell moves about the group. (Note: she does not explicitly instruct all of the hand placement variations which are shown in the accompanying PDF download, although you can hear her suggesting these variations to some students.)Immediately following handstand, Clennell has the class begin preparatory work for forearm balance. Again, she has them play with down dog at the wall, this time placing the feet on the blocks (in both the low and high positions) to obtain greater lift in the hips. Once this is accomplished, Clennell has her students practice this same lift with the forearms on the floor, positioning themselves for forearm balance, and eventually, she instructs them to kick up into the balance posture itself. Finally, Clennell allows the class the opportunity to spend some time resting via supportive standing forward bends. The first of these is standing forward bend with the top of the head placed on either 1-2 blocks or a chair. Next, Clennell brings the group into wide-legged standing forward bend, again resting the head on a block and holding this pose a good bit of time for a restorative effect. This concludes Part 1 of the workshop.Part 2 opens with preparatory work for headstand. Clennell first shows how to use a block to keep one’s back away from the wall in this posture, so for those listening at home, having someone to hold the block is ideal. However, this partner segment is brief, as Clennell then has the participants practice—without actually coming up into headstand—the feeling of keeping their backs lifted in the posture. She also shows a more elaborate, multi-block setup option for students with particularly tight upper backs (this is pictured in the PDF file). The next headstand variation involves what Clennell calls a “channel,” or a support for the head made from a blanket folded thrice lengthwise, which she states allows for greater comfort and less fatigue in the pose. (Personally, I did not find this to be the case, but later in the practice, Clennell mentions that using the channel does not work for everyone, depending on head size.) Using the channel, Clennell demonstrates revolved headstand, and she encourages the participants to practice this version as well as one-legged headstand.After spending almost 40 minutes on the headstand practice, the shoulderstand sequence which concludes the workshop feels a bit rushed. Furthermore, the shoulderstand setup which Clennell uses in the audio does not correspond to what is depicted in the PDF file—i.e., although she does have the students perform this posture with the assistance of a chair, the buttocks are not placed on the chair as pictured. Rather, Clennell has the class set up for shoulderstand using four blankets (she explains that she usually uses three blankets, describing the use of four here as a “special treat”) to support the shoulders. The hips are placed on either a bolster or a block as a “launch pad,” and a looped strap is used to keep the arms at shoulder width. Finally, the chair is placed behind the head, as the feet will initially rest here in half-plow before coming up until full shoulderstand; the one-legged shoulderstand variation (touching the other leg back to the chair) is practiced as well. For savasana, Clennell cues the group to roll down and come off the blankets but then to cross their calves over their bolsters so that their low backs can be supported by the floor. After allowing her students to rest here for several minutes (and switching the cross of the legs), Clennell concludes the session in a seated position.This workshop definitely offers the experienced yoga student the opportunity for in-depth practice with inversions. Because the audio download obviously removes the “hands-on” component of the live workshop, I would mainly recommend this class to self-motivated practitioners who have some pre-existing comfort level with these postures.

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