Know Thyself: Defy gravity, and turn your world upside down
by Nancy B. Loughlin
Published in News Press on July 9, 2013.  Posted with permission. 

headstand on the board

Headstand on the paddleboard

You’ve entered Cirque du Soleil.

When you slide into your rainbow harness at Super Fly yoga class at Fort Myers Ruby and Pearls, the first move instructor Roxanne Steele will teach you is the flip.

Do one thing every day that scares you, Eleanor Roosevelt said. This could be it

While cradled in a silk that can handle 1,000 pounds, you’ll jettison two safety nets at once: your connection to the earth and your right-side-up-ness.

“This is a completely new level of trust. Using the silk forces us to release control,” Steele said.

But the flip offers more than a thrill. Inversions reboot your entire physical system. Upending the body reverses the blood flow, clearing the mind and slowing the heart. When the legs are lifted higher than the head and you enlist gravity as your friend, you improve your circulation and stimulate lymphatic drainage, soothe tired legs and feet and relieve back pain

But, beyond the body is the mind. The left side of the brain processes in a logical and sequential order while the right side processes spontaneously, holistically and randomly. In a world that frequently demands rigidity, order and hierarchy, the right side of the brain, the seat of innovation and creativity, is often shoved into silent compliance.

The solution? Turn the world upside down.

1. Draw with the right brain. Betty Edwards, author of Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, suggests selecting a familiar image, a photo of Einstein or a Picasso drawing. Turn it upside down, and try to copy it.  According to Edwards, this will force the left brain to retreat. Your right brain will explore the perceptions of edges, spaces, relationships, the interplay of light and shadows, and wholeness

2. Do a handstand. When you drop your hands to the floor, kick up your legs, and allow your heels to brush the wall. Feel the muscle bands around your abdomen and ribs tighten, and create space between your shoulders and ears.

3. Just bend over. Uttanasana (standing forward bend) is one of the most restorative poses in yoga. While standing in mountain pose, drop your chin to your chest and fold forward from the hips. Bend your knees as deeply as you like and allow every exhale to lengthen your spine, the compression to massage all your organs. When it is time to rise, place your hands on your hips and maintain the length of spine. Ideally, hold uttanasana for 3 to 5 minutes. Or…

4. Legs up the wall. After working out or surviving a tiring workday, lie on the floor with your buttocks pressed against the baseboard, and lift your legs perpendicular to the floor supported by the wall. Stretch your arms to T and breathe.

legs up the wall at Austin marathon

Legs up the wall at the Austin Marathon

5. Build a tire swing in the yard or visit a local playground. Do you need an explanation? Really?