I will over the next couple of months, write a few blogposts about benefits of a certain group of asanas we do (or maybe should do more of in our daily practices). The blogposts will contain an explanation about the certain group of poses and the benefits of performing these poses.
These blogposts are related to my workshops doing this fall. Check my site for workshops, if you are in Copenhagen and interested in one of my Asana-Lab workshops.
And in this post I will talk a bit about Inversions. About being upside down!
So first I want to make it clear – to practice inversions you don’t have to have a stable headstand or handstand. An inversion is any pose with the hips above the heart, and the heart above the head. Our beloved Adho Mukha Svanasana // Downward Facing Dog can easily be considered as an inversion.
Second, I am not writing this to make you jump straight into doing headstands daily without preparing your body (and mind) for it. Most of the more advanced inversions are best to practice under a teachers supervision before practiced alone. Ask your teacher about advice before jumping into the harder and more advanced poses. Poses like Sirsasana//headstand and Salamba Sarvangasana//shoulderstand puts a lot of pressure on the neck and shoulder muscles. So be mindful while practicing. I know inversion looks good on Instagram – but whenever you do it, do it with integrity.
Below here, I will go over some of the benefits of practicing inversions Since there hasn’t been done that much scientifical research of the psychically asana, most of these points are not scientifically proved, yet. But people has been practicing them for many years, and studied the effects on the body and the mind. As a long-term yoga practitioner, I will agree on these points. By doing the poses, I have felt the effects on my own body, and seen it in my students. When we talk about lymph system and the brain, it can be hard to measure only as a practitioner, but I have personally felt my mind getting sharper from practicing inversions.
Benefits of doing inversions
Building strength; Inversions, specially forearm-stand, headstand and handstand gives us an amazing opportunity to build up strength in the upper body. Be aware you are practicing them correctly. Supervise with a teacher if you are in doubt. You might end up using the wrong muscles, and it will create more tension than strength. It is also a great core-strengthener, since you need to work strongly with your abdominal to hold yourself up in inversions.
Lengthening the back body; When you perform inversions like Downward Facing Dog, Plow Pose, Legs-up-the-wall you create length and space on the back body.This benefit will also accrue in more dynamic inversion, if they are performed correctly. Focus on pushing the floor away and reach up towards the ceiling with the toes.
Relieves Spinal Pain. When you perform an inversion you take of the pressure of the spinal cord, plus giving one a better posture. The Spinal Cord is such an important part of the body, but due to our constant sitting and standing (and out bad postures) it is under a lot of pressure, but inversions will, as said above lengthen the spine and help on the posture. For a lot of people backpain comes from bad posture will sitting or standing.
You will be giving your heart a break: To pump the deoxygenated blood back to the heart against the gravity, the heart is using an enormous amount of energy. When you are upside down you heart doesn’t have to work as hard (Funny, in my first draft I wrote heart instead of hard), since you reverse the blood flow.
You will improve your Brain function.
When being upside down the blood will flow to the brain and give it more oxygen and nutrients. This will make the brain work faster and better. It is said to improve concentration, memory, observation and boost clear thinking. Being upside also helps you focus, since you will lose the balance, as soon as you lose your focus.
Inversions can be energizing; Inversions like headstand, handstand and forearm-stand can be rather energizing. Your heart rate will go up, your breath the probably be a bit faster and will all that blood going to your head, you need a short break after performing one of those poses. Staying in one of the harder inversion might also create some adrenaline in your body. If it is the beginning of your journey, you probably also get quite excited when you hold a handstand for the first time without a wall.
Inversions can be calming; Viparita Karani / legs-up-the-wall pose is a good example of this. Have you ever finished your practice in this pose? Yum, I must say. It is so relaxing. It has some of the same benefits as shoulderstand. Shoulderstand is also often performed in the end of the class, to calm the body. Shoulderstand do require more body-activity, but it is meant to calm down the breath and the body. Downward facing dog, can be used as a restful-inversion as well. (I know, some people might not agree, yet)
Inversions can improve your confident; If you have been on your yoga journey for a while, you might remember your first meetings with the more advanced inversions? And if you are new to yoga you probably feel it now. You look at the asanas, and think “how will I ever get there?”. But time will past, you will practice – and then one day you are holding headstand for the first time. And oh my buddha!! Filled with excitement, nothing can stop you! Yes, inversions like armbalancing poses will help you improve you confident.
Give you a new perspective; With these benefits, put into one – inversions will give you a new perspective. If you are feeling a bit stocked, need new inspiration or simply just need new ideas; go upside down. When you psychically flip yourself around, your will also flip your daily life around.
I hope some of these listed benefits will give you inspiration to be more upside down. There are more information and benefits to be found on inversion, but these are my main points when it comes to inversion. Remember, consult your teacher if you are in doubt whether you have enough strength and flexibility to perform the more advanced inversions. But you can always place a bolster or cushion near the wall, and rest your lower back on it – and raise your legs towards the ceiling.
Thank you for being here. Stay Blissful.