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Intermediate Yoga

Still a Little Hesitant to Go Upside Down? This Home Practice Will Help

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Strengthen your core and build upper-body strength so you feel more comfortable in any inversion.

Build core and upper-body strength and get comfy going upside down with this sequence from Jolie Manza.

When practiced regularly, inversions build upper-body strength, connect you to your core, and offer a new perspective on your practice. The work you put in to find balance on your hands (or head) can help you meet the challenges you face in your day-to-day life. Like any obstacle, mastering inversions takes quite a bit of focus, courage, and a willingness to try, but the results can be incredibly rewarding.

Going upside down with confidence requires dedication: building strength, learning to use your core for stability, and keeping your legs light and energized so they can balance above your hips.

See also Kino MacGregor’s 4-Step Get-Your-Handstand Plan

The first time I found my balance upside down, I realized the untapped potential of my incredible body. I was hooked. But I also found the journey challenging at times. A moment of clarity came when I realized how under-utilized some of my muscles were. We are so accustomed to relying on the major muscles that help us navigate our pedestrian lives (think quadriceps and biceps) but when asked to call upon the subtle muscles in our hands or low belly, we don’t quite know how to engage them or how to use them to our benefit.

Hopefully this sequence will help you wake up the parts of your body that you will need to call upon when going upside down, in turn, stimulating your mind! Be patient but courageous as you search for your (vertical) potential.

About the Author
Jolie Manza is an international yoga teacher and movement professional in Bali. She’s the founder of YogaKoh, a school specializing in teacher trainings, retreats, and workshops worldwide. Learn more at yogakoh.com.

See also Challenge Pose: Handstand (Adho Mukha Vrksasana)



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Advanced Yoga

5 Poses to Help You Reconnect With Your Partner After a Miscommunication

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Even after a disagreement has ended, the effects can linger. Here’s how to foster communication and love after a fight.

When you have a disagreement with a loved one, it can be difficult to get back to a place of love. Here’s how to use your yoga to heal a broken heart.

I lost my mind the other day. It wasn’t the first time and it won’t be the last. One second, I was me—and the next I was time-warped into my childhood. My perception of the present moment was confused by old emotions and past hurts. I all but blacked out, unable to remember things that were said. And then I went catatonic. I felt trapped in a prison of anxious thoughts, yet I was unable to put anything to words. And all of it seemed to happen in an instant.

The catalyst for this temporary insanity? A spat with my husband about household chores.

We laughed about it once we were brought back to the present moment. But in the moment of the fight, we were anywhere but in the moment. If we could have listened above the noise of the thoughts to the omnipresent hum of our hearts, maybe we could have seen how silly this whole thing was much earlier. If we could have met on the heart-level instead of the head-level, maybe we could have had that extra hour to do what most fights in relationships are really about: connection.

According to the cardinal yogic text Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, yoga is defined as citta vritti nirodhah, or quieting the movements of the mind. In other words: Get out of your head. What happens when we do that? We get into our hearts, where we are connected to everyone and everything all the time. Yogis work on differentiating between the mind and the heart every time we come to our mats.

See also 3 Things I Learned After Taking a Break from My Yoga Practice

But, can we get real for a minute? When it comes to miscommunications with our partners, quieting the mind is particularly challenging. Put a yogi in Virabhadrasana II (Warrior II) for three minutes and most won’t bat an eye. Yet even the most grounded people I know can find themselves turned inside out and upside down by a fight with their partner.

On the surface, a fight may look like a squabble about a specific issue, such as your partner being on his phone during dinner or you always forgetting to close the dresser drawers. Yet what most fights are really about when we strip them down to their core is a request for connection. We are asking one another to hear above the words, “Please, can you put your phone down when we’re together, or remember to close the drawers when you are rushing to work?” What we are asking is that our partners hear our hearts’ requests, which is really asking our partners to be more present and conscientious.

The thing is, most of us get so caught up in the fears and emotions around the surface hurt that it’s hard for us to make the connection request from the heart. So instead, we attack one another from our minds and egos.

This is where our yoga practice can help and any tiff—big or small—become an opportunity for growth. Disagreements with our partners push us out of our comfort zones and ask us to take responsibility for our thoughts, words, and actions. They ask us to remove the walls we have fortified around hearts and stand vulnerably before someone, even when we are both upset. If we can learn to settle our thoughts and emotions, the ego is removed, and we tap into a special place that exists inside us all.

In this place, we are pure love. This is our true nature. This is our heart.

See also Two Fit Moms’ Heart-Opening Partner Yoga Sequence

What I was reminded of during this most recent spat with my husband is that sometimes, we must lose our mind, to find our heart. I created this five-pose yoga sequence to help all of us reconnect to our hearts—and our partners—after a miscommunication.

See also This 7-Pose Home Practice Harnesses the Power of Touch

About the Author

Sarah Ezrin is a yoga teacher in San Francisco. Learn more at sarahezrinyoga.com. 



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Advanced Yoga

Stand Tall & Steady: 10 Yoga Sequences for the Legs

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Falling out of Tree Pose? Learn how to build a solid foundation from the ground up with these yoga sequences that target the leg muscles.



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Advanced Yoga

10 Yoga Sequences to Strengthen Your Glutes

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Amplify your yoga practice with these yoga sequences to stretch and sculpt the glutes.



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