When You Can No Longer Stand on Your Feet…

…then stand on your hands!

This past yoga teacher training weekend, the theme was inversions– poses in which your heart is above your head.

The benefits of inversions are many-fold, and include the following:

1.) Improve Circulation: For most of our day, whether we’re sitting, walking, or standing up cooking dinner, our head is above our hearts above our legs.  Our heart is continually sending and receiving blood from our lower bodies, fighting gravity on the way up.  Inversions allow gravity to work with us and give our heart a rest. {see: venous return}

2.) Calming: Inversions mellow our nervous systems and help the body relax.  A study conducted by physiotherapist LJ Nose found that EMG activity (a measure of muscle tension) declined over 35% within ten seconds of inverting.

3.) Hormone Regulation: Headstand and its variations can help calm the irritation/agitation associated with hormonal fluctuations.  Hormonal changes associated with premenstrual symptoms or menopause can have a negative effect on the nervous system as well, causing depression or anxiety. Inversions (such as shoulder stand or plow pose) calm the nerves, which allows the mind to relax.

Fun Fact of the Day:

I just read that, since inversion is in their natural habitat, bats and sloths are the only creatures on earth who will never suffer from osteoarthritis.  

Neato!

If you are like me, and have a wee bit of practicing to do before you look like the gal in the first photo, here is an easy inversion that almost anyone* can do.

It’s called Viparita Karani (Legs-up-the-Wall Pose).

The benefits of this pose include:

  • alleviating menstrual cramps
  • relieving (mild) back ache
  • calming anxiety
  • relieving tired legs/feet (takes lactic acid from tired legs)
  • improving circulation to the pelvis, heart, and head
  • improving digestion
  • improving mild symptoms of depression/insomnia

Personally this is one of my favorite poses; I find that it either calms my hectic/anxious mind, or invigorates me when I’m feeling draggy/slow.  Plus, it feels just fabulous.

Check out my yoga teacher’s clear and succinct instruction in how to get into the pose:

It feels great to use an eye-mask during this pose, and to put a blanket on your torso to stay warm.  Stay for up to 10 minutes, and make sure to come out of the pose very slowly (resting on your side a bit before sitting back up).

*Please make sure to learn and practice handstand/other advanced inversions with a teacher you trust before attempting on your own.  Additionally, those with high blood pressure are advised against inversions, as well as those with degenerative bone disease, detached retinas, and glaucoma.  Lastly, some schools of thought advise against a strong inversion practice during menstruation. 

Happy inverting!

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One thought on “When You Can No Longer Stand on Your Feet…

  1. Pingback: World Upside Down | TakeSomeTime

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