Inversion yoga poses are amazing. I have always loved them…headstand in particular.
Yoga’s physical and mental benefits are especially concentrated in the inversion poses, allowing you to feel and see results faster. When you reverse the flow of gravity through the body, you are stimulating and helping a number of bodily systems.
Here are some reasons why going upside down is great.
- Change your mood. Going upside down for a minute or more can literally and figuratively change your perspective on the world. Try it next time you’re feeling a bit down, negative, or anxious (see Point 3 below for links to some great inversions).
- Digestion, elimination, lymphatic system/immunity, back pain relief – the physical benefits are too numerous to list!
- Wake up. Caffeine takes 20 minutes to work, but an inversion will give you mental alertness almost immediately. Yoga 1, Starbucks 0. Nothing perks you up faster than a handstand or bow/full wheel pose (advanced). And headstand, shoulder stand, and even downward dog (all intermediate) are energizing too.
- Gain confidence. How? By working through our fear of falling, fear of failing, or fear itself, we can train our emotional response system to relax. Breathing steadily while coming into any inversion (gradually and safely) trains our body to not react with its usual “fight or flight” panic mode. Rather, we can learn to face challenges head-on, while staying non-reactive and at peace.
- Lessen problems like edema, sore legs, and varicose veins. By taking pressure off the legs, health problems in this area can be greatly alleviated.
- Look fresh! Blood flow to the face and head will give you a great glow, for a rejuvenated look.
If you have never tried yoga, then just bend your knees and until you can touch your toes, resting your belly on your thighs. Drop the head down. Hang out like that for 1-2 minutes, and then you’ll start to see what all the fuss is about! Otherwise, check out this inversion practice you can do at home.
5-Minute Inversion Practice
Place a mat on the floor against a wall, and come into Extended Child’s Pose. Hold for 10 breaths.
Come into Dolphin pose with your hands clasped and touching the wall. Relax the head down and hold for 5 breaths.
Then come into Headstand at the wall (Sirsasana) by placing the crown of your head (not your forehead) on the mat so that the back of the head is cupped by your clasped hands, and your hands are pressed up gently against the wall. Press down through the forearms as you pull your shoulders up away from the ears. Walk to your toes toward your face until your back is pressed up against the wall. Kick up one leg at a time, or experiment here at the wall with a double-kick-up. When you’re finished, rest in Child’s Pose, keeping your head lower than your heart for at least 5 breaths, so that you are not dizzy as you come back up.
If you have any eye complications (eg. detached retina), are pregnant, or are very frail in and around the shoulders, then these are not for you right now. Also, if you are menstruating, inversions are not recommended. Here is an alternative to full inversions that you can safely work on for shortened periods of time.)