Study for Meditation Mat

Study for Meditation Mat
Handspun Tapestry Weaving

Thursday, 24 November 2011

My Brain is Hanging Upside Down: Inversions and the Power of Changing It Up

My yoga teacher has spent the past few months turning me upside down.  I mean this literally--I've been hung from ropes, suspended with my head between two chairs and my legs up, and laid out flat on the floor with legs up the wall.  Yesterday, I did a forward bend with my back and head pressed along the wall.  It felt good, looking at the world that way.

Inversions lower your blood pressure, drain stale blood and lymph from your limbs and allow your lower body to take a break from daily wear and tear.  Inversions are helpful in calming anxiety.  They give you a new perspective and can help you break away from habitual ideas.

We all have our habits, fixed ideas of how the world does and should work, how people should behave, how life must go for us.  Habitual ways of living are necessary sometimes, but they often keep us from seeing someone else's perspective, lock us into ruts and are sources of suffering.

We can lock into habits in our fibre work.  This might not be as serious a problem as other fixed views, but insisting on always knitting this way or spinning one default yarn can deprive us of fresh ideas and new perspectives. 

At its worst, habitual practice in fibre work can draw us into The Fibre Wars.  We've all seen those; most of us have participated in at least a skirmish or two:  The best way to knit socks is toe up, short row heel.  Nonsense-socks must be knitted top down, on four needles, with a turned heel.  Two circulars, magic loop, etc., etc. 

Then there's spinning and the battles between those who spin on spindles and those who insist only a wheel will do.  (And that wheel must be Brand X.)  The best yarn is woollen spun 2 ply.  No, it's a 3 ply (not chain plied) worsted.  Art yarn!  Smooth yarn!  U R DOING IT RONG!

All this sounds beyond foolish when you think about it, but when you're caught up in the moment, battles over fibre or anything near and dear to your heart seem like the most important things in the world.

The next time you get caught up in drama and habit, try changing your perspective, if only for a project.  If you're a pieced sweater knitter, knit something in the round.  If you always knit mittens from the cuff, start a pair from the finger tips.  If you're a free form spinner, get out that control card and spin to a standard. 

If you never get caught up in drama (lucky you!), step away from your habits just to experience the changes. 

Give that brain a gentle shake and hang upside down once in a while.  Who knows? You may discover a new favourite way of working, along with a fresh outlook on the world.


(Note: Inversions have great benefits and almost any one can do them, but check with a medical practitioner before attempting inversions or other unfamiliar poses, especially if you have uncontrolled hypertension.)


  1. There's got to be a story behind that picture of the bat and the fingers.

  2. I thought you knew! He's a Big Brown Bat that I found hanging out (ha!) in my yard a few years ago. I called the Bat Rescue Team at the university and the woman holding the boy came to get him. Turns out he was a teenaged male with a sprained right wrist. (I'm not kidding.) After a night of rest and antibiotics at the bat lab, he was released back into the park, good as new.

  3. That's so cool! I like bats too.