In yoga, students are often sharply divided about inversions. Some people can’t wait and approach headstands or handstands with joyous anticipation. Other practitioners choose that moment to take a sip of water, rest in child’s pose, or otherwise avoid getting their heads below their hearts. We believe as long as inversions are practiced with safe alignment and modifications if needed, there’s a pose appropriate for almost everyone.
What is an inversion?
It’s any asana where the head is below the heart. So, Downward Dog, Legs up the Wall, and standing forward folds count. More dynamic inversions include Headstand, Handstand, Shoulder stand and Forearm Stand. Of course, if injuries or other physical limitations exist, some of these postures may not be appropriate. People who have suffered a stroke, have neck injuries, heart conditions, high blood pressure that isn’t regulated, or glaucoma may need to modify or skip some asanas.
1. Improve your circulation: When your go upside down, circulation is increased because you are reversing the direction of your blood flow. This fresh oxygenated blood provides your brain with more oxygen and helps improve concentration and focus. Better circulation also means healthier, smoother skin and some yogis consider inversions the fountain of youth!
2. Stimulate your lymphatic flow and detoxify: The lymphatic system is how toxins move through and are released out of your system. Unlike the circulatory system, which has the heart pumping the blood, the lymphatic system needs muscular movement to keep flowing. Inversions encourage the lymph to travel more easily to the lungs where toxins hang around. The power of gravity aids your immune system and stay healthy.
3. Shift your mood: Inversions boost your energy or helps you fully relax. Instead of grabbing a mid-afternoon coffee, try one of the more heated postures like Headstand, Forearm Stand, or Handstand and see how clear and invigorated you feel.
Cooling postures such as Shoulder Stand or the modified Legs Up the Wall pose activate the parasympathetic nervous system and help your mind quiet, your muscles relax, and your emotions to be soothed. Legs up the Wall or Vipariti Karani is an excellent pose to do before bed if you have trouble sleeping.
4. Strengthens Your Core and Upper Body: For active inversions, the shoulders, back, chest, arms, and core all must work together to support your body. Working against gravity is an excellent way to strengthen your posture muscles, not to mention ensure you improve your balance!
5. Shifts Your Perspective: Life can feel crazy sometimes and as we journey along this rollercoaster ride, we can become stuck in habits and patterns. Literally turning yourself upside down helps you see we can address issues from a different perspective. Inversions encourage a playful, childlike attitude and offer a chance to simply have fun.
This week's classes bring you a fresh opportunity to play with getting upside down.
1. Bhavani Maki Amrita: The Nectar of Inversions
2. Keith Allen Upside Down Flow
3. Desiree Rumbaugh Build Inversions Safely
4. Dana Smith - Shifting Paradigms
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