I'm sure that if you follow any number of yogis on Instagram, then you have seen your share of inversions. Headstands, handstands, crazy one handed stands that I could never do... lol.
Maybe you just skim by, maybe you stop and admire them for a second. But few of us take the time to find out just why inversions are such an integral part of yoga, and how much of an amazing role that they can play in your overall health and fitness.
And before you write this off as a no-go, because you can't do the crazy stuff... don't worry! The true definition of an inversion is any pose where your head is below your heart.
While headstands, handstands and forearm stands get the most social media attention, simple poses such as downward dog, legs up the wall & forward fold are all equally good for your heart!
Below are a just a few of the many benefits of inversions:
Inversions reverse the blood flow in the body and improve circulation:
Inversions use gravity to provide the brain with more oxygen and blood thus increase mental functioning, and improve concentration, memory, and processing abilities. Increased blood flow to the brain also often equals less headaches!
Increase immunity and prevent illness:
The lymphatic system is a key player in keeping the body healthy. As lymph moves through the body it picks up toxins and bacteria to be eliminated by the lymph nodes. Because lymph moves as a result of muscle contractions and gravity, getting upside down allows lymph to more easily travel into the respiratory system where much of the toxins enter the body.
Decreasing Mood Swings
Standing upside down can actually make you feel better! When blood circulation gets fine, this releases neurotransmitters, balances the hormones which make a person feel light hearted and more happy than usual. So, if you are really sad, try doing inversions! It might make you feel a lot better! This is said to control depression, premenstrual symptoms and mood swings.
Inversions also help to decrease insomnia. When your mind is all relaxed and in high spirits because of the healthy blood flow, a person will be able to sleep better. When inverting, muscle tension decreases by 35%. This is one of the reasons why a person can sleep better after inverting.
A little bit of Legs up the wall pose can do wonders for those who have trouble sleeping.
Inversions Improve your balance
Inversions add another dimension to balance training. It also forces you to learn to sense your body in space in a different way (proprioception). Inversions help create better body awareness.
Clears Skin & Reduces Wrinkles (ladies, who doesn't want that?!)
With an increase of oxygen-rich blood flowing to your head and face, you may also notice clearer skin and fewer facial wrinkles. This one is not proven, but many inversion lovers claim that it has been the case with them.
These benefits are just a few of the many that can come from inversions. Ask your yoga instructor what their favorite inversions are and why, and get ready to turn your yoga practice upside-down! :)