This yoga pose eluded me for a long time. Now? It's one of my favorites.
  1. Start with a tripod
    Too nervous to extend your legs fully above your head? Invert yourself and support your bent knees on your arms, just above bent elbows.
  2. Learn to fall safely
    I used to be so terrified of toppling over that I'd try to stop the process mid-fall by twisting my body and landing on my side. Not safe--and actually scarier! Instead, make sure you're practicing in an area free of hazards you could hit, and allow yourself to fall FORWARD. You're just continuing the momentum you started, essentially doing a forward somersault. Nothing you didn't nail hundreds of times as a kid.
  3. Don't rely on the wall
    Some folks find it helpful to practice next to a wall, so they can place their feet on it when the fear sets in. I think this is detrimental, because it causes us to overarch our backs. The goal is one straight line from head to tailbone.
  4. Use your legs to refocus your center of gravity
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    If I feel like I'm about to fall, I transition my legs into a split or lotus. This helps you reconnect to your center, assuaging feelings of vulnerability.
  5. Breathe
    Ugh, I know. Every yogi says this: "Just breathe. Keep breathing." You know why? It helps. I use my ujjayi breath, inhaling and exhaling through my nose and filling the back of my throat with air. If nothing else, it'll help you forget that you're upside-down for a few seconds! 😜