Inversions, or being upside down, can be a scary thing for us humans. Especially since we spend the majority of our lives with our head above our hips and feet. However, although it’s scary, having a regular inversion practice can be very beneficial for your physical and mental health. In fact, it’s so beneficial that I’m going to give you 10 good reasons to start an inversion practice of your very own!
1. Builds core strength
Having the ability to hold inversions such as headstand, handstand, and forearm stand require a great amount of core strength (abdominals, back muscles, pelvic floor, etc.). In order to stay stable up there, we have to draw everything energetically into the center line, which actively builds strength in the core.
2. Increases Blood flow to the brain
It literally sends the blood to your brain, which increases the body’s oxygen and overall blood circulation.
3. Helps you focus
Having an increase of blood flow to the brain improves your ability to focus, concentrate, and remember things.
4. Invigorates and energizes
Increased blood flow to the brain also provides you with a boost of not only mental invigoration, but it also has an energizing effect on your physical state as well (this is only true for heating inversions such as handstand, headstand, and forearm stand; The body goes through a calming effect when practicing shoulder stand or legs up the wall pose).
5. Builds balance and equilibrium
Holding an inverted posture upside down helps to build your balance as well. You are not as stable on your arms as you are on your legs, and if you look at the physical shape of your body, you can easily see why. Therefore, as you strengthen your ability to hold an inversion, you gain the ability to balance for longer as well.
6. Provides a new perspective
While you are literally shifting your perspective by turning your world upside down, it actually does have an effect on your mental perspective as well. While it may not be as obvious as the literal perspective shift, if you are struggling with a certain issue in your life, or feel that you need to see something in a different light, hang out upside down for a bit. You’re likely to discover something new that you didn’t notice before.
7. Makes you happy
Along the same lines as number 6, shifting your perspective can also make you happier. Being upside down also activates the adrenal glands, producing adrenaline and endorphins, which naturally make you happier.
8. Builds confidence
Once you get past the feeling of fear for being upside down, you’ll realize that it’s really not all that scary at all. This realization will give you a sense of accomplishment and self-confidence, which will increase as you build a stronger inversion practice.
9. Reduces Stress
When practicing cooling inversions such as shoulder stand and viparita kirani (legs up the wall), has a calming and soothing effect on the body. This is known to reduce stress levels, and ultimately calm you down.
10. Helps Relieve Back Pain
The act of turning your body against it’s natural position releases some of the spinal pressure that is placed on us in everyday life. This could relieve some back pain, but not all, depending on the reason for the back pain itself.
Who Shouldn’t Invert?
If you’re pregnant
Unless you had a strong and solid inversion practice before you became pregnant, then you should avoid inverting during this time. If you don’t you could potentially fall over due to lack of balance (and the fact that you’re just not use to being upside down yet), which could potentially injure you and/or the baby.
If you’re menstruating
It’s important to allow gravity to “do it’s thing” while you’re menstruating otherwise, it’ll interrupt the natural flow of things causing problems in your uterus. (SIDE NOTE: I personally have never altered my practice due to menstruation, and found it to be just fine, but since so many sources have made this point, I figured that it was worth mentioning).
If you have certain injuries
It depends on the type of inversion, but if you have a neck injury of any kind, you should not be practicing headstand or shoulder stand. Also, if you have a wrist injury, you should probably stay away from handstand as well. Just be logical with your body’s current condition, and if you feel any yoga pose is placing too much pressure on an injured area of your body, then you should not be practicing that pose until you are fully healed.
As humans, we generally aren't use to being upside down, or baring all of our weight on our hands. That's why a handstand is often such a challenging pose to conquer. It looks awesome when experienced yogis do it correctly, but it's something that doesn't come easily. That's probably why it's so impressive.
Just in case this is one of your goals in life like it was for me, here is a short and easy to follow video tutorial on how to do a handstand for beginners at the wall. It shows you how it's done and describes how to maintain the pose while balancing on the wall for support. Of course, once you get use to this, you can always move on to releasing your legs from the wall. However, you should definitely practice here for a bit first to get the feel for being upside down and gain strength in your arms and wrists. As always, please practice with caution.
Thank you so much for stopping by the blog today! I hope this video helped to further you along in your journey towards handstand! Don't forget to let me know how you liked it in the comments below! I absolutely love love love to hear from you! Hope you have a wonderful rest of your day! Namaste.
Girl On Yoga is a blog about yoga, lifestyle, and healthy / mindful living. If you have any questions that you'd like answered on the blog, submit them here.
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