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Inversions – turning things upside down

Trusting, letting go and turning things upside down often seems a little scary, but like most things once we move through the initial fear and hesitation of the minds limitations, we open to a whole array of new experiences.

Just as the practice of yoga encourages us to move further away from our old habits and comfort zones, inviting us to examine things differently – inversions are a great way to challenge ourselves physically, mentally and emotionally and view the world from a new perspective.

So  what exactly defines an inversion? Typically an inversion is any posture where the head is below the heart.  While handstands, forearm stands and other variations may spring to mind there are a number of accessible and gentler inverted poses (including downward dog, half bridge, and legs up the wall) for those newer to yoga or wanting a more restorative practice.

Although the benefits of inversions are huge, when including inversions into our yoga practice it’s essential we learn the correct set up and alignment of each posture to ensure we receive the maximum benefits and most importantly prevent injury, especially on the back and neck.  If you have a history of high blood pressure, heart problems or have had a neck or spinal injury – practicing inversions with caution under the assistance of a yoga teacher is recommended.

There are also differing opinions on women practicing inversions during their moon days. My general recommendation is to avoid practising more dynamic inverted postures during the first few days of a women’s menstural cycle, as turning the body upside down goes against the body’s natural rhythms during this time.  In saying this – no one knows your body like you do so most importantly listen to your body and tailor your practice to how you feel, and to how you feel best.

10 reasons why turning upside down is not only fun, but also very good for the health and vitality of your body and mind.

  • Improves circulation and brain activity – flushing refreshed blood and nutrients around the whole body, especially the brain.
  • Gives the heart a break – as the heart is constantly working to pump blood upward towards the brain, inversions assist in the flow of blood to the brain, with little work from the heart.
  • Improves immunity – inversions help to stimulate lymphatic cleansing and drainage which assists in clearing toxins from the body.
  • Stimulates the nervous system – increasing mental alertness and clarity.
  • Natural antidepressant – flushing the adrenal glands stimulating the release of endorphins.
  • Glowing skin – by reversing the flow and ageing force of gravity, new oxygen stimulates the capillaries in the skin and face.
  • Increases the digestive fire – aiding the digestive and elimination process.
  • Energises the body – increasing core strength and improves posture.
  • Calms the mind – relieving stress, assisting with better seep patterns.
  • Builds confidence – and most importantly can be lots of fun

General tips for practicing inversions safely:

  • Practice safely and mindfully.  Start gradually with variations that allow you to build up strength and flexibility. Try using a wall for support to begin before freestanding.
  • Be aware of your body in alignment.  If you feel like your alignment is not quite right, come out of your inversion first, make the adjustments and then come back into the pose. Avoid making adjustments while inverted.

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