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5 Yoga Poses to Prep for Inversions

Looking to master inversions? Do these poses first.

Many people who practice yoga have difficulty with inversion poses such as handstand, and often times it is because there isn’t enough strength supporting the shoulders. Shoulder strength is the foundation for a safe and strong inversion practice. The yoga poses below, courtesy of, will give you the foundation you need to build strong shoulders and gain more balance to maintain proper positioning in an inversion pose. Try these and you’ll be on your way to a handstand in no time!

By Jessie Wren


Urdhva Hastasana


  • Press down through all four corners of the feet
  • Spin your palms toward the front of the room
  • Keeping your palms facing forward, lift arms overhead without turning your hands
  • Palms face the back of the room once arms are fully extended overhead (this is what creates external rotation in the upper arms)
  • Relax shoulders down and away from ears


Side Plank


  • Start in Plank, and pivot onto the outer blade of the right foot – stack the left foot on top
  • Stack the bottom wrist under the shoulder
  • Make sure your hips are stacked and lifted towards the ceiling
  • Keep your feet flexedReach the top arm towards the ceiling and spread the collarbones


Revolved Low Lunge


  • Make sure your legs are wide enough apart so the front leg is bent to 90 degrees, and the thigh is parallel to the floor
  • Stack the front knee over the ankle
  • Press into the ball of your back foot for extra support
  • Reach your top arm toward the ceiling as high as you can
  • Push against the floor with your bottom hand while externally rotating the top arm


Chair Pose


  • Keeping your feet together, bend your knees and lower your seat towards the mat
  • Keep your weight in the heels enough that you can wriggle your toes
  • Drop the tailbone, tuck the pelvis, and lift the heart
  • Draw your abdomen in and up, and maintain core engagement
  • Straighten arms over head, spiral your pinkies inward to keep your arms engaged
  • Reach up through the arms as you release the shoulder blades away from the ears




  • Make sure your hands are shoulder-width apart
  • Wrists and elbows are directly under your shoulders
  • Draw your navel in and up (just as you did in Chair pose)
  • Externally rotate your upper arms, internally rotate your forearms
  • Spin the inner thighs toward each other – everything is strong and engaged here!
  • Push against the floor to find length and stability – keep your fingers pressing actively into the mat
  • Remember to gently press your legs up, as opposed to swiftly kicking them up


All photography courtesy of Jessie Wren.

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