Hang out upside down, wrong side up, or inverted! Inversions are simply holding your heart higher than your head. It is said that inversions can aid in the health of the cardiac, lymphatic, endocrine and nervous systems. You do not have to be into Yoga to reap the benefits of some stretching and posing on your own!
Much like aerobics, inversions can offer fresh blood to the heart and improve circulation. Being upside down can even improve lung tissue quality. Because we walk around upright the majority of the day, our upper and lower lungs are not getting ventilated evenly. Being inverted will give our upper lobes better ventilation!
Your lymphatic system, according to “Yoga Journal“, is a closed pressure system with one-way valves that keep lymph moving to the heart. This system is responsible for waste removal, immune-system response and fluid balance. When your body inverts, this stimulates your lymphatic system and, in turn, strengthens your immune system.
Your endocrine system is responsible for hormone delivery. Inversions, especially shoulder stands, are recommended for perimenopausal and menopausal women due to the belief that the pose stimulates the thyroid and parathyroids glands, which regulates metabolism. Most inversions will stimulate your pituitary gland, which is your master gland, and promote a positive state of well-being.
Inversions may also stimulate cerebrospinal fluid, or CSF, which is the juice of the central nervous system that flows from the brain to the spinal cord. In head stand, the top of the skull experiences pressure that could promote elasticity in the cranial bones, thus increasing the production of CSF to the ventricles of the brain, according to “Yoga Journal.”
Years of gravity’s pull and spinal compression often wreak havoc on people’s backs, creating pain that most cannot explain. Inverting can be a natural way of counteracting the pull of gravity. Energy Center says practicing inversions, especially with the use of an inversion table, can benefit your spinal discs, strengthen your ligaments and soft tissues, and relieve muscle spasms.
While lymphatic drainage, a healthier heart and lung tissue, and a more balanced hormonal system are all perceived benefits of inversions, practitioners have reported other benefits, including better sleep, focus and digestion. And while none of these benefits have been scientifically proven, an inversion practice can have an effect on your body and mind. At the very least, conquering one of the most elite poses in yoga, and often fearful poses at that, can provide satisfaction to the practitioner. –Livestrong.com
I like to encourage my participants and clients to try inversions because it helps us to go after challenges. As fun, beneficial, and challenging as inversions can be they are not for everyone: people with high blood pressure, a history of stroke, glaucoma, or any woman on the first few days of her menstrual cycle should not try inversions. People with shoulder, back or wrist injuries should also avoid practicing these unless under the guidance of an experienced and knowledgeable teacher! With all of that said, Try it Thursday! In front of the couch, beside the bed, at the gym, against the wall, at the park, in the office…find a place!
“What Are the Benefits of Inversions in Yoga?” LIVESTRONG.COM. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Feb. 2013.