Turn your life upside down – Workshop alert***

Turn your life upside down!

Ever wondered why we go upside down quite so much in Yoga? We class an inversion as any position where the heart comes below the hips so even if you’re not standing on your head or chilling in shoulder stand you can still reap the rewards!

In my upcoming workshop we will be focusing mainly on headstand aka sirsasana and if you already have a headstand beginning to work on forearm stand aka Pincha mayurasana.

What is it that makes people want to stand on their head?

Salamba Sirsasana

Benefits of Supported Headstand aka Salamba Sirsasana and Forearm stand aka Pincha Mayurasana

  • Strengthens shoulders, arms, abs, back and legs.
  • Stretches shoulders
  • Improves balance
  • Vitality and renewal
  • Clears the mind & creates focus
  • Builds confidence, challenges fear
    • Always acknowledge fear and be reassuring and self-compassionate, taking things in stages.
  • Shifts perspective
  • Energy from the lower chakras moves up to the heart
    • Creativity and power -> Insight
      • Gives us opportunity for inner growth
  • Said to be cleansing for the organs
  • Stimulates the lymphatic system and helps drainage
  • Helps with digestive problems and sleep issues
  • Its even anti-aging! As we turn our head down to the floor we begin to activate our crown chakra (Sahasrara) where our ‘amrita’ or ‘immortal nectar’ is held. During our lives our amrita drops down through the body over our lives, for this reason it is believed that inversions keep the nectar at the crown and thus allowing us to life longer.
  • Best of all… It’s fun to have a go and find your sense of playfulness!

Are there any reasons to avoid inverted postures? Inverted postures are not necessarily for every one and it is advised people with certain health conditions avoid these postures.


Pincha Mayurasana
  • Glaucoma (excess pressure in the eyes)
  • Recent stroke
  • High Blood pressure
  • Neck or shoulder injury
  • Epilepsy
  • Pregnancy
  • Menstruation
    • Yogis’ choice – energetic focus is down so makes less sense to invert the body. More difficult to activate bandhas so not always safe

So if you think you’d like to have a go at progressing your inversions come along on the 23rd Feb 2019 We will go through some strengthening exercises to start to get the body ready to support itself inverted. Identifying which muscle groups help us to find the correct alignment whilst upside down and learning how to fall out safely. Whilst you may not achieve the full posture, you will have all the tools to use to safely further your inversions.

Suitable for those with at least 6 months practice to ensure the body is strong enough to safely attempt headstands.

23rd Feb 2019 at 16:30-18:30 £25 (£20 for members)

Workshop held at Jiva Health Wimbledon, 19A Wimbledon Bridge, Wimbledon, London, SW19 7NH, phone: 0208 9469721

Call to book or click HERE

Would yoga be an effective complementary practice to the treatment of Complex – Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD)?

In this article the beneficial effects of yoga will be discussed in relation to some specific symptoms related to Complex-Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD). C-PTSD is a condition most often caused by repeated and ongoing, severe interpersonal trauma, it is commonly seen in those who were subjected to chronic childhood abuse. The symptoms of PTSD as stated in the NICE guidelines include, re-experiencing symptoms (e.g. flashbacks, nightmares, intrusive images, physical pain), avoidance of reminders of the traumatic event, hyperarousal (e.g. constantly on edge, hypervigilance of threat, insomnia) and emotional numbing. In addition C-PTSD sufferers can also experience, difficulty controlling emotions, inability to trust, feelings of permanent hopelessness/worthlessness/differentness, regular suicidal feelings, dissociative symptoms (e.g. feeling disconnected to the world around them, the body and ‘missing’ periods of time.) and risky or self-destructive behaviour. The main focus here will be reconnecting with the physical body, emotional recognition and regulation and looking at methods of grounding and staying connected to the present moment, by using yoga as a complimentary practice alongside regular treatment options.

adult alone anxious black and white

Photo by Kat Jayne on Pexels.com

As a mind and body practice, yoga has many benefits in beginning to connect to the physical body, and experience embodiment in a safe environment. By using techniques such as meditation and pranayama(breath control) the participant can be allowed time to sit,  focusing on something other than the trauma. Noticing the sensations within the body in relation to particular emotions, experiencing these as natural sensations, rather than something to be feared or avoided, using the compassionate stance of yoga to accept these emotions without negative judgements. Certain yoga positions such as a wide kneed child pose and breathing techniques such as full yogic breath or nadi shodhana (alternate nostril breathing) can stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system. There are several benefits to activating the parasympathetic nervous system during the process of recognising distressing sensations. The vagus nerve releases a hormone called acetylcholine which helps the body relax and reduces the stress hormones cortisol and adrenalin which are often over stimulated in sufferers.

At the time of the traumatic event, the body is flooded with adrenaline and stress hormones, which have been proved to interfere with effective memory processing and consolidation. So instead of the traumatic memory being filed away in linear time, it becomes timeless.’ –  Ryan,J. (yogabhoga.co.uk)

The vagus nerve can also help the sufferer process the trauma by stimulating the amygdala, the part of the brain which stores memory, this can allow the processing of trauma imprints to memory, allowing them to become rooted in time.

Work at the Trauma Center Yoga Program is based on the clinical premise that the experience of trauma affects the entire human organism—body, mind, and spirit—and that the whole organism must be engaged in the healing process.’ – Emerson,D. et.al (2009) p124

Many c-ptsd sufferers disconnect from the body because trauma is stored at a cellular level and is not fixed in time. If the sufferer comes into contact with a trigger they re-live the traumatic event as a full body experience, time shifts, physical sensations are experienced and sensory distortions occur. These symptoms are caused by an imprint on the cells similar in nature to the yogic concept of samskara. A samskara is a mental imprint, in full detail, left by all actions, thoughts and intentions, that is the root of many habitual behavioural patterns. It happens on a sub-conscious level, without active consideration.

candleinhandIn PTSD the trauma leaves a full imprint of the trauma which is not housed neatly in memory, it reacts to triggers on a subconscious level. By using yoga to look inwards the sufferer can begin to regain control of the experience. By beginning to see the trauma as separate to the true self, the process of embodiment and grounding to the present moment can begin to take place. By realising that they are not the trauma but a witness to it, a choice appears, either go with it and relive the trauma – effectively retraumatising or begin to recognise the bodily sensations and/or thought processes that lead up to the flashback or other reliving symptoms and nip it in the bud. By using mindful meditation, grounding techniques, breath work and movement. This gives the sufferer space to begin to work in a therapeutic setting.

Taking a trauma sensitive approach to teaching yoga is very important to prevent the sufferer becoming overwhelmed by experience. Emerson,D. et.al suggest 5 aspects of the traditional yoga class which need to be addressed; Environment, Exercise, Teacher qualities, Assists and Language. These are all important elements within any regular yoga class but are particularly important with trauma survivors.

  • The environment needs to be welcoming and safe, avoiding anything that may be a possible trigger to allow the participants to feel less vulnerable. Time should be taken with a gentle opening to let the participants settle into the space and begin to create a non-judgemental environment to begin exploring with movement and breath work.
  • The asana would depending upon the groups capabilities and stage of treatment, giving lots of options to explore how it feels in the body, or to opt out if overwhelmed. Focusing on allowing the participant the choice to do what they want with their body, empowering them to take charge of what happens to them.

No, I will not be in pain. My opinion about what is happening to me matters, and I can take control.” – Emerson,D. et al (2009)

o    Extra care needs to be taken with hip openers because positions e.g happy baby may be triggering. They will need to be gradually introduced step by step to allow the student to experience these positions in a state of safety

o   Savasana may also be problematic so approaching it more loosely and giving seated options as well as different lying positions.

  • The teacher needs to be welcoming, open, approachable and able to adapt on the spot if something unexpected happens. Allowing the students to explore and experience in their own way and at their own pace whilst holding a safe environment.
  • Assisting needs to be focused and efficient, physical adjustments may not be appropriate for many months if at all. Verbal cues can work much more effectively to give guidance whilst allowing for safe personal space. If approaching the participant this should be done clearly so they know where the teacher is at all times.
  • Language should be clear, avoiding possible trigger words. Encouragement and invitation in the instruction avoids the possibility of participants feeling coerced and lets them choose what to do or not do depending upon what they are experiencing.

In conclusion the inclusion of a trauma-sensitive yoga practice would be beneficial to complement the traditional talking therapies used to treat C-PTSD. Taking this approach would allow for a full body treatment and give the participants the tools needed to safely undertake the complex psychological work within the therapeutic setting.








Ryan,J. Yoga and PTSD retrieved from – www.yogabhoga.co.uk/yoga-articles/yoga-and-ptsd/






West, J., Liang, B., & Spinazzola, J. (2016, July 4). Trauma Sensitive Yoga as a Complementary Treatment for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: A Qualitative Descriptive Analysis. International Journal of Stress Management. Advance online publication. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/str0000040

Emerson,D., Sharma,R., Chaudhry,S. Turner,J. (2009) Yoga therapy in practice: Trauma-sensitive yoga: Principles, Practice & Research. International Journal of Yoga Therapy, no19, 123-128