The suggestion to do yoga inversions has the power to promote a range of emotions from students: bewilderment, fear, anxiety, rejection, aversion, excitement, butterflies — take your pick. Purposely turning ourselves upside-down is against our physical nature. However, the benefits of upending ourselves are numerous.
Just as yoga encourages us gently to move beyond any unconscious habitual patterns, the invitation to invert is just another way to shake things up and step out of a rut. However, inversions don’t have to be panic-inducing. While we may think of Headstands and complicated arm balances, there are loads of ways to reap the benefits of inversions without being a circus artist.
What Are Yoga Inversions?
Yoga inversions are most generally categorized as any asanas in which the head is situated below the heart during the moment. And while Headstand, Handstand, Forearm Stand as well as the Shoulder Stand immediately come to mind, there are indeed gentler variations which may be more accessible for students who are early on in their inversion relationship. These are lovely ways in which to get things moving in new directions without jumping into the deep end. Examples are:
- Downward Dog,
- Standing Forward Folds,
- Legs Up the Wall, as well as
- Happy Baby.
Like with all things in life, the suggestion to get upside-down should not be generally prescribed. There are certain contraindications which should be observed so as not to cause or aggravate previous injuries or illnesses. The following are common issues that should be addressed before inverting:
- Unmedicated high blood pressure,
- Some heart conditions,
- Neck injuries,
- Recent stroke,
- Detached retina,
- Glaucoma, as well as
3 Great Benefits Of Yoga Inversions
Yoga inversions – such as the Shoulderstand, Headstand, Handstand and Forearm Balance – strengthen the arms, legs, back as well as the core abdominal muscles. In addition, they teach us the principle of “drawing into the mid-line”. This can be really useful for improving our standing postures, incorporating balances like Hand to Big Toe Pose (Uttitha Hasta Padangustasana).
Going against gravity assists with venous return (in other words, the de-oxygenated blood going through your veins and back to the heart). Venous return relies heavily on muscular movement as well as gravity in order to move the blood.
Yoga inversions (as well as aerobics) give venous return a helping hand so improving circulation. At the same time, you are also assisting the flow of oxygenated blood to your brain, sensory organs as well as the face.
Better Lymph flow
Conceptualise the lymphatic system as the sewage system of your body. It works by lymph picking up toxins, excess proteins and bacteria and then carrying them to the lymph nodes in order to be eliminated. As with venous return, our bodies rely on gravity and muscular action in order to move the lymph so inversions can help us to flush the system.
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