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How to Build Strength For Yoga Inversions

You Asked: Issue With Inversions

Hi Fit,
I have been practicing yoga on my own for years, and I love it all . . . sun salutations, backbends, forward bends, you name it . . . except for the inverted poses. Despite my best efforts, I have never been able to get into them! Can you recommend any exercises to strengthen my upper body so that I will be able to do them, or do you have any other tips to help me take my practice to the next level? Should I have someone help me? Any advice you can offer will be much appreciated!

In my yoga classes, inversions are the poses most people have problems with, so you're not alone. They require balance, strength, and most of all the guts to be upside down. I believe it's possible for all healthy people to do them, so to hear my tips on how to get yourself there,


Strengthening your upper body is a great way to feel stronger when inverted. I recommend regularly doing all variations of push-ups, the challenging Walking Elbow Plank exercise, and Dolphin Dive. I also recommend practicing Crow pose since it will also work your balance.


Flexible hamstrings are also helpful, since they allow you to walk into the inversion. This is much better than jumping into it, which makes you more likely to lose your balance and not be able to hold the pose. So also incorporate Tipover Tuck and Seated Straddle into your stretching routine.

When you're ready to go upside down, start off with the easiest inversion, Tripod Headstand. It's normal to feel nervous that you'll fall, so practice in front of a wall (with your head about eight inches from the wall). Place your head and hands on the mat, straighten your legs, and walk them in as close as you can toward your head. This is considered an inversion even though your feet aren't in the air. If you're feeling ready, rest your knees on your triceps, coming into Tripod Balance. From here, you can work on lifting one leg at a time into the air. If you're in front of a wall, you can easily place your feet on it for support. As you feel more brave you can lift your feet away from the wall and try balancing on your own.

My best advice is to keep practicing and don't give up. As you become stronger and more confident, Tripod Headstand will become easier for you. Once you master that variation, you can move on to other inversions including headstand variations, forearm stand, and handstand. And if you have access to a yoga studio, taking classes and getting one-on-one help from the instructor will help you master inversions even faster.

Yogaforlife Yogaforlife 8 years
I'm struggling with this too although as I get stronger I find I can hold the pose a little, just not pull my legs up into it. My yoga instructor told me that it took her a year and a half to learn to do this on her own so don't worry if it's not something you don't get right away.
scmeggiry scmeggiry 8 years
i've noticed a lot of people do plank to chatarunga to up-dog way too fast. slow it down and you will notice your arms/upper body engaging and getting stronger. Going from tripod balance to tripod headstand takes a lot of core, especially the initial push to get your knees off your elbows and balance in the air. I found bound headstand the easiest to learn first.,0,0
cnyc1a cnyc1a 8 years
it takes core , guts, breath, and trust in yourself.
bigestivediscuit bigestivediscuit 8 years
I've been so frustrated trying to do a headstand in the middle of the room as no matter how hard I try, I really cannot seem to use my core to get my legs up. I always thought I had a strong core as I can hold my planks and side planks pretty easily and well but apparently not! Don't even talk to me about raising both legs up simultaneously ... ugh.
Beaner Beaner 8 years
I think using a wall is an excellent idea because you can use it for support and gradually move your feet away when you feel stronger and more stable. This is how I learned how to do handstand - although I still can't hold it very long, the wall was a huge help,
kurnu kurnu 8 years
I thought I was alone in this. I've been doing yoga, air yoga and acro yoga for 3 years now. I love it but somehow I can't do a headstand w/o a wall.
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