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Inverted Yoga - Myths and Benefits

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Inverted yoga helps develop balance, flexibility, and strength while extensively affecting mental and physical health when performed safely.

Medically reviewed by

Shakti Mishra

Published At November 21, 2023
Reviewed AtNovember 21, 2023

Introduction:

Yoga is a challenging exercise both on and off the mat. Yoga inversions are a particular aspect of the practice that can be challenging to understand. With our sense of gravity being redefined and our skills being tested, inverted postures force us to develop the ability to balance on our hands or heads. Inverted yoga poses are spectacular, but they provide more than just a pretty picture.

What Is Yoga Inversion?

A type of yoga pose known as an "inversion" involves having the head either just below the heart and hips (a "half inversion") or both the heart and legs (full inversion). Even though they can be challenging, inversions have a number of physical and mental health advantages, and they can give a fresh outlook on the practice. The most widely practiced fully inverted poses are headstand, handstand, and shoulder stand. One can start with simpler half-inversions, such as Downward-Facing Dog, Child's Pose, and Dolphin Pose. Starting slowly and paying attention to the body is also important. Ensure a certified yoga instructor can lead and assist with proper alignment and technique.

What Are the Physical and Psychological Benefits of Yoga Inversion?

The physical and psychological benefits of yoga inversions are:

Physical Benefits:

Circulation:

Venous return is aided by defying gravity (the flow of deoxygenated blood through the veins to the heart). Blood is moved by venous return through muscular motion and gravity. Inversions and aerobic exercise improve circulation. This simultaneously assists oxygenated blood flow to the face, sensory organs, and brain.

Lymph Flow:

The lymphatic system can be compared to the body's sewage system. Toxins, extra proteins, and bacteria are picked up by the lymph and transported to the lymph nodes for elimination. Because the body's systems depend heavily on gravitational attraction and muscular action to move lymph, inversions can enable the system to flush.

Nervous System:

The nervous system is also impacted by inversions. Energizing poses like headstands and handstands cause the body to heat up and stimulate the nervous system. They are frequently followed by poses that are more calming and resting for the nervous system, such as shoulder stands or legs up the wall. These two postures are excellent if one is stressed out or has trouble sleeping.

Psychological Benefits:

Inversions are excellent self-assurance builders. These poses can be a constant reminder when a person advances through each phase or gains more strength. Memory and concentration are aided by improving the blood and oxygen flow to the brain. Being upside down alters the world's perspective, both literally and figuratively. It can help us learn to break out of our routines and do something different. Inversions also provide energy.

What Are the Myths of Yoga Inversion?

  1. Women on their periods should not invert - No proof suggests that women cannot perform inverted poses while having a period. Inversions can help with healing and do not interfere with the shedding of mucous membranes and extra blood.

  2. Yoga inversions cause spinal decompression - As the neck muscles contract to hold the body upright during inversions, the upper spine is frequently subjected to greater compression forces. The spine does not decompress during yoga inversions.

  3. Inversions alter the body's subtle energy - It is just a myth to think that gravity and subtle energy are related. They are independent forces that may overlap but are not fundamentally altered by inversion.

What Are the Inverted Yoga Poses?

Some of the inverted yoga poses are:

Child pose (Balasana):

To transition the body from sympathetic to parasympathetic mode, practice Child's Pose before and after difficult inversions. In turn, deeper states of inner harmony and balance are encouraged during the practice due to slower heart and respiration rates. Child's Pose is a great place to begin; it is one of the simplest inversions in yoga for beginners.

  1. Sit on the knees and rest the hips on the heels.

  2. With the arms tucked close to the body, reach the front and position the forehead on the ground.

  3. Maintaining the hips on the heels while relaxing into the mat. Separate the knees slightly if the hips are rising off the heels.

  4. Allow the back, head, and shoulders to rest on the floor.

  5. Focus on slow abdominal breathing and remain in this position for 30 to 45 seconds.

Shoulder Stand (Sarvanagasana):

The Shoulderstand, also called the "queen of asanas," is one of the most significant inversion positions in Hatha Yoga. Shoulderstands can lower blood pressure and stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system when performed steadily and comfortably. This guarantees that all internal functions and hormonal balance are working well.

  1. The first thing to do is lie on your back with your feet together and your arms by your sides.

  2. Keep your head and neck on the floor, take a deep breath, and raise both legs to a 90-degree angle.

  3. Place your hands on your hips and move them toward your shoulder blades as you raise them to the ceiling.

  4. Draw your chest to your chin while raising your hips as high as possible.

  5. To keep your back straight and make sure your feet land directly above your head, continue to support yourself with your hands.

  6. Focus on the area around your throat while taking slow, deliberate breaths.

Headstand (Sirasana):

Headstand, also known as the "King of Asanas," is a yoga pose with many advantages, particularly for the brain. The upside-down position of this pose improves blood flow to the brain, enhancing oxygenation and cognitive function. Additionally, strengthening the upper body and enhancing pituitary, pineal, and hypothalamic function are two additional benefits of this challenging yoga inversion pose.

  1. To evaluate the spacing of the posture, extend out on your knees while holding onto the elbows.

  2. Then, while keeping the elbows in the same position, lower the arms until they are directly beneath your shoulders.

  3. Forming a triangle with your arms, squeeze your hands together to interlock your fingers. Hold your elbows close.

  4. Put your hands behind your head and curl your toes. Straighten your knees and lift your hips to the sky.

  5. Move your feet slowly in the direction of your shoulders.

  6. Keeping your back straight, bring your right knee to your chest first, then your left knee.

  7. Lift your legs to the sky while taking a deep breath. One’s feet should be in front of you, and you should keep them straight.

  8. Choose a stable point to focus on—ideally, one at eye level.

  9. Hold the position, however comfortable it feels, while taking slow, deep breaths.

Conclusion:

Yoga inversions have several health advantages, including increased circulation, flexibility, strength, and self-esteem. Even though they are generally safe, certain populations, such as pregnant women and those with circulatory conditions or injuries, may find some yoga inversion poses challenging and unsafe. Furthermore, only highly experienced yogis should attempt certain poses, as they may not be appropriate for beginners. It is always advisable to consult the healthcare provider before beginning yoga inversions or attempting a new or challenging pose.

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Shakti Mishra
Shakti Mishra

Nutritionist

Tags:

yogaposture and balance
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