|Spending some time in an inversion as part of your practice has many benefits:
- Reverse the blood flow, improves the circulation
- Gravity in the inversion increases blood flow to the brain thereby increasing oxygen to the brain for better mental functioning, concentration, memory
- Calms the nervous system
- Lowers certain kinds of back pain
- Lowers blood pressure
- Makes you happy by increasing distribution of endorphins.
What Defines an Inversion?
Most generally a yoga inversion is defined as any posture that has the head below the heart. So even downward facing dog is an inversion. The more pronounced the inversion the greater the benefit. These include:
- Forearm Stand
- Shoulder Stand
- Supported head stand
Other less intense inversions are:
- Downward dog
- Legs up the wall
- Forward fold
Do you have a Fear or Anxiousness of going upside down
It is not uncommon to have a fear or anxiousness to do an inversion. After all we rarely spend much time that way. If you have a true phobia, just do legs up the wall until you are ready to cope with the phobia.
But a healthy fear of inversions is not difficult to overcome. First, don't try your first attempt without a trained spotter. Make your first inversions supported head stands. These are easier and safer. Don't stay up for extended periods until you feel comfortable doing so. Complete every inversion with childiis pose to let the blood pressure equalize.
Women on their Cycle
There is often the statement made that you should not go upside down if you are on your cycle. This is up to you based on your own informed research.
Head and Forearm Stands May not be Safe for you
Depending on your body shape, the stiffness of your shoulders and overall strength, head stand and or forearm stand may not be a safe posture for you. One way to tell is how far you can take the posture of dolphin. If you feel that you can take dolphin to an almost balanced pose with weight mostly on your forearms you may be ready to try head or forearm stand. But it is highly recommended you do your first ones with a spotter who knows the posture well.
Supported Head Stand
One the most effective ways to get all the benefits of an inversion without the downsides is with a supported head stand.
Caution: Do not do this on your own until you have practiced with a spotter and are confident you have the strength to both go up and down by yourself.
To do a supported head stand:
- Make 2 stacks of 3-4 blocks heads width apart up against a wall.
- Start in table top.
- Place your hands, palms down, behind the blocks and drop your head between the blocks so the shoulders are firmly on the blocks.
- Your head should not touch the ground but if it does, there should be no weight on it as you go up. Tilt the head slightly so the tip of the forehead goes to the ground.
- Raise the hips to the sky and walk the feet towards the blocks bring more weight to the shoulders.
- Once you have gone as far as you can, use your abs to roll up to the inversion bringing up the bent legs last.
- Straighten the legs and feel free to play with straddles, leg drops and whatever feels good.
How long to stay up?
For your first inversions, make the time short. Perhaps 15 seconds. Go up more than once and take a child's pose after each one. Add time as you feel comfortable. Listen to your body. When you feel it is enough, come down. Take child's pose.
Adding inversions to your practice provides an enormous additional benefit to your practice. So if you have not practiced inversions, consider adding them to your next session.