At the Yoga Loft in Cabarete, our amazing instructors will often lovingly encourage you to try an inversion pose. An inversion is most generally categorized as any asana in which the head is below the heart. There are many variations to try- you can chill out with your legs up the wall, or go big and kick up into a handstand. No matter your level of practice, the simple truth is inversion poses are amazing for your whole body.
Here are some of the reasons why:
They are Energizing:
Heating inversions such as handstand, headstand, and forearm balance work your muscles, big and small, which gets your blood moving, resulting in physical invigoration and mental revitalization!
Cooling inversions like shoulder stand & legs up the wall activate the parasympathetic nervous system, soothing your body and mind, producing feelings of balance and calm.
Inversions let gravity provide the brain with more oxygen and blood, improving concentration, memory, and processing abilities. This is part of why they are called the fountain of youth!
Increase immunity and prevent illness:
The lymphatic system is key to keeping the body healthy. As lymph moves through the body it picks up toxins and bacteria to be eliminated by the lymph nodes. Lymph fluid only moves as a result of muscle contractions and gravity, so getting upside down allows toxins to more easily travel back to key node areas to be eliminated.
Once balancing in one legged poses has been mastered, the obvious next step is finding equanimity on hands and head! Inversions trigger small muscles which will help stabilize you in everyday tasks as well.
Increase muscle strength:
Shoulders, arms and core all get a workout from these stabilizing poses—and the difference improves your form in all poses over time.
When you first see someone kick up into a handstand and find that beautiful place of balance, you may be feeling a twinge of envy and having “I could never do that” thoughts. As you practice challenging yourself through these upside down poses, you’ll build confidence to conquer other things you thought at first to be impossible!
Before we finally “get it”, those many attempts to gain upside down postures remind us of how much more we have to learn, and how truly it is about the journey, not simply the destination. Going easy on yourself can be the make or break between giving up and going forward.
Give a new perspective:
Yoga gently encourages us to move away from any unconscious habitual patterns, and the invitation to invert is simply another way by which to shake things up. They teach us through metaphor that there is always another way to approach the situation/person/problem. Seeing life in a different way can enforce in your mind what a gift it really is!
They are fun! We are reintroduced to our inner child and reminded that while yoga is a contemplative endeavor in many ways, the asana practice is also a time to be playful and light hearted! Life becomes easier when we stop taking ourselves so seriously!
Like all things in life, the suggestion to get upside down is not for everyone. There are certain contraindications that should be observed so as not to cause or exacerbate previous injuries or illnesses: unmedicated high blood pressure, some heart conditions, neck injuries, recent stroke, detached retina, glaucoma, and epilepsy are common issues that should be addressed before inverting. Talk with your doctor and teacher if you are unsure about your status. Above all, as always, listen to your body first.