Apart from making a great photo on Instagram, practicing inversions has many amazing benefits on your body and mind. An inversion is basically any pose where the head is below the heart, so you don’t need to be able to kick up into handstand to achieve this. More gentle inversions include downward facing dog pose, supported shoulder stand and the dolphin pose. Here are top 5 reasons to practice inversions regularly.
1. Inversions boost your immune system
When we turn ourselves upside down we stimulate our lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is responsible for clearing out toxins and waste in our body and is crucial in keeping us healthy on the inside. Lymphatic function supports our immune system, as well as other systems we house in our amazing bodies. So by stimulating our lymphatic system, we give our immune system a great boost.
2. Inversions give you energy
It’s no surprise that when we invert, more blood flows to the brain. This blood carries fresh oxygen and nutrients to the brain helping us to feel mentally invigorated. Body heating inversions such as headstand and handstand are extremely energising and strengthening. So when you feel that afternoon slump creep up on you, pop up into headstand for a natural energy lift.
3. Inversions give the heart a well deserved rest
Inversions encourage venous blood to return to our heart. Our heart is working hard all day and night pumping freshly oxygenated blood around our body. Taking our head below our heart gives it a helping hand.
4. Inversions calm the nervous system and relax the mind
Cooling inversions such as Viparita Karani (legs up the wall pose) activate the parasympathetic nervous system, our rest and digest state. In this state we enhance deep rejuvenation of the body, mind and soul. When you are in a more relaxed state you lower your blood pressure, your immune system flourishes and you enjoy a calm, clear and focused mind.
5. Inversions are fun!
The most important benefit, in my opinion, is that turning upside down is fun! You lose all inhibitions when kicking up into a headstand or handstand and you get to connect to your inner child. This is something as adults in this fast paced world that we forget to do, to play, to have fun and to let go.
These poses also give you a confidence boost. You get to face your fears as you first attempt a more difficult inversion like headstand or forearm balance. But when you finally get up there and hold yourself in the pose, you are filled with a great sense of achievement. They can become a metaphor for your life. Keep working hard at something you thought was unachievable and you can achieve it!
I hope reading this has inspired you to start and include more inversions into your Yoga or general fitness practice. If you are a beginner, then start by adding more downward dogs and shoulder stands to your practice. Build up your arm strength with poses like dolphin plank and add a bit more core work to your routine to help with holding yourself upside down. But most importantly listen to your body and recognise the incredible things you are doing for yourself every time you turn upside down.