The Power of Inversions - Why Hanging Upside Down is More Than Fun
Headstands, handstands, downward dogs, scorpion, shoulder stands, feathered peacock, plow pose… what do all of these postures have in common? You’re defying gravity! These inversions bring your hips above your heart and your heart above your head.
Inversions have long been the postures that have terrified people at yoga classes… but they are to be feared no more. Inversions like handstands and forearm stands can be exhilarating and heat building, and they can activate the sympathetic nervous system (i.e. your flight-or-fight response). Inversions like headstands and shoulderstands (especially when they are included in a closing sequence of a yoga practice) can be calming and can activate the parasympathetic nervous system (i.e. rest-and-digest response). Although practicing inversions can bring up a lot of fear and anxiety, they can also build confidence.
Aside from looking pretty awesome inversions have so many unbelievable benefits to the mind and body that I’m hoping once you’ve read this you’ll be hanging upside down everyday.
Some of the many benefits include:
- Improves circulation – When you are upside down, you reverse the blood flow in your body and it encourages venous return – the return of blood flow back to the heart.
- Increases mental functioning – you’re concentrating and processing how to get your body to stay upside down – it all takes focus – increasing the mental functioning in the brain.
- Increase flow of lymph – Inversions in yoga encourages the flow of lymph back to the heart. Your lymphatic system is a key part of your immune system. It’s like a big drainage system in your body, collecting extra lymph from body tissues and helping to fight infection. However, the lymph system relies on movement and pressure to move the lymph fluid.
- Improve balance – as it helps to create better body awareness and helps you to learn to sense your body space in a different way.
- Builds core strength – When we stand, we can get away with being lazy in our posture. You can’t really do that when you’re upside-down and you have to engage your core in order to stay upright.
- Forces you to focus – because it’s really hard not to focus when you’re upside down.
- Provides a new perspective – As you hang upside down it helps you to start to see things more clearly, giving you a fresh and new perspective on life.