I taught an Inversions in the Sand workshop on the weekend. It is always so delightful to watch students who never anticipated that they could do a certain pose, find themselves floating up and balancing with glee. Playing outdoors, in the sand or on the grass, creates a sense of spaciousness and delight when it comes to testing out new poses and possibilities. I highly recommend going outside, breathing the prana rich air, bathing (safely) in solar energy and jamming out your yoga practice.
There are so many ways to go upside down. You don’t need to be able to stand on your head or balance in midair to get all of the gobsmacking benefits of yoga inversion poses. So listen up and feel empowered knowing that no matter your situation, there’s an inversion that’s perfect for you. As soon as your head is below your heart, you’re inverting! So when you bend into a standing forward fold or take a few breaths in down-dog, magnificent! – you’re well on your way.
Here are just some of the glorious emotional, physiological and spiritual benefits of flipping your bod upside down.
Hormonal Balance & Energy
The benefits of inverting go far beyond looking super impressive to bystanders. When you flip upside down, you’re sending oxygen-rich blood straight to your brain. In poses like shoulder stand or bridge (yes, bridge – Setu Bandhasana – is an inversion because remember, your head is below your heart), the thyroid and parathyroid get nicely compressed, which helps to balance the body’s hormonal system and regulate how quickly the body uses up energy stores.
Eagle legs Sirsasana.
Erin exploring eagle legs in headstand: Garud Sirsasana.
Immunity & Detoxification
The lymph system gets a nice boogey-down when you invert because lymph moves parallel to the circulatory system and doesn’t have a conductor, like the heart, to move it around. Lymph moves toxins out of the body so when you flip upside down you give this system a boost and give some overall loving to your immune system. Your internal organs also get shimmied around which helps to boost detoxification and bring fresh life to any organ that’s a little sluggish.
Relaxation + Energy Power
When you go upside down, there’s this amazing calming effect that takes hold. It might not be present if you’re flailing around, trying to maintain balance, but if you’re reasonably steady and able to breathe, a world of chill will settle over you. Simultaneously, you’ll feel energised! The blood will move around, muscles will contract and release, your skin will be flushed – the whole body and mind gets a bit of an overhaul.
The Vital Essences
There are parts of your body that aren’t visible but have a huge impact on your overall health. When you go upside down, you help to build Ojas (one of the three Vital Essences), which is the water-rich element in your body that cradles every aspect of your health. It is also the element that helps you to develop spirituality and connectedness. It is this energy that makes you grounded and brings your whole being into alignment.
Moving sand around for the perfect foundation then exploring a world of upside down fun.
Shoulderstand on the beach.
Sarvangasana (all parts and organs pose) can be practiced in so many ways. Straight, on an angle – start exploring!
Confidence & Perspective
There is something so empowering about changing the way the world works, playing with the directions of your body and getting exploratory. When you do your first shoulderstand or handstand, it’s like the ceiling blows off and you realise that you’re capable of so much more than you even imagined. This is true too of people who are differently abled or older who come into legs up the wall for the first time. Taking the weight out of the legs is liberating and offers a sense of possibility, lightness and play. Everyone of all shapes and sizes can benefit!
So no matter who you are – whether you yoga it up on the daily or have never touched a mat, you should go upside down every day. EVERY DAY. It doesn’t need to be fancy. You can just come onto the ground and put your legs onto the couch or up the wall – it’s that simple. If you work standing all day long, wear high heels, have swollen knees or ankles, have varicose veins – going upside will be of so much benefit to you.
On Your Period?
There are lots of different ideas about inverting while on your period. Here is my take. When you’re on your period, your bod is working to flush out all of that reproductive stuff that it’s not using. If you go upside down, you’re not helping your body. You’re actually making it harder. During the first few days of your period, it’s nice to have a more restful practice that’s supporting the ebb and flow of your body. One of my teachers, who is a nurse, also told me that inverting while menstruating might be associated with Endometriosis, which is when lining from the uterus moves outside of the uterine cavity causing complications. Good stuff to think about, yeah?
You are capable of so friggin much! Just wanted to tell you that. Carry on. -L x
Wide legged tripod headstand .
Like Belinda, keep your neck long and arms strong. This is not the pose for you if you have any neck issues!
Tripod headstand practice on the beach.
You can come into tripod by first balancing your knees on your elbows. This might be where you stay. See how you feel.
Yogis resting on the beach.
After an inversion, it’s nice to rest and let your circulation become steady. If you come up too fast, you might get the dizzies.
Booya! There you go. A little information on going upside down, all the amazing benefits and just a couple of things to remember. Now this ain’t the whole 411 so if you have questions, ask them in the comments section below.
I hope you learned something and feel empowered to flip your world on its head. If you found this helpful or inspiring, then don’t keep it to yourself. Geez. You must share it. Be smart, be safe and have a ton of yoga-fun.