Do you ever have the itch to be upside-down? Or is it just me? Maybe I’m weird. But I’ve always felt random wants to be upside-down. Even before yoga, I remember in my first year of college I would lay on my back and hang my head off the bed. And often, I feel the want to kick up into a handstand at work. I don’t know why. But I crave them all the time!
So recently I’ve wondered, “What is it about inversions that makes me crave them?”
- Calms the mind and relieves stress
A full body stretch upside down can be rejuvenating and help the body to effectively 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. Showing how helpful inversions can be in relieving the tension and pain in your muscles that is often caused by stress.
- Enhance Ability to Concentrate and Remain Focused
Inversions help increase oxygen flow to the brain, which consumes 25 percent of the body’s oxygen intake.
- A Positive State of Well Being
Your endocrine system is responsible for hormone delivery. Inversions, especially shouder stands, are recommended for perimenopausal and menopausal women due to the belief that the pose stimulates the thyroid and parathyroid glands, which regulates metabolism. Most inversions will stimulate your pituitary gland, which is your master gland, and promote a positive state of well-being.
- They are Fun!
When was the last time you went upside down? You probably did it all the time as a child and loved it. Start practicing again today and bring back some of that outgoing childhood spirit!
Other awesome benefits…
- Helps Improve Circulation (This explains why if you have a headache and go to yoga, it’s gone by the end of class.)
The cardiovascular system is your body’s transportation system, carrying food and oxygen to your body’s cells. It also retrieves blood from your legs and lower torso, carrying it upwards against the force of gravity. Inversion allows your body to work with gravity to ease the circulation process.
- Strengthens the Immune System
Your lymphatic system, according to Yoga Journal, is a closed pressure system with one-way valves that keep lymph moving to the heart. This system is responsible for waste removal, immune-system response and fluid balance. When your body inverts, this stimulates your lymphatic system and, in turn, strengthens your immune system.
- Reduce Pain in Overworked Muscles
Athletes prone to stiffness or sore muscles after a workout can benefit from the lymphatic wash provided by inversion. The lymphatic system has no pump, putting the body upside down helps speed up the process of removing waste from the body.
- Strengthens Ligaments
Ligaments are flexible but not very elastic. They can tear when stretched too much. The gentle reverse loading and movement that occurs while you invert strengthens ligaments and connective tissue.
- Can Reduce Shrinking
Most people will lose from 1/2 inch – 2 inches in height during their lifetime because of thinning discs. As a baby, your discs are 90% water. The water content in the discs decreases to 70% by age 70. An active inversion program can help maintain more of your original height.
- Improve Balance and Body Awareness
Inversion helps to develop balance awareness, which occurs when the upper regions of the inner ear are stimulated.
- Strengthens the Core
Holding a non supported inversion and moving in and out of poses develops deep strength. This strength is necessary to stabilize yourself upside down.
- Back Relief
Years of gravity’s pull and spinal compression often wreak havoc on people’s backs, creating pain that most cannot explain. Inverting can be a natural way of counteracting the pull of gravity. EnergyCenter says practicing inversions, especially with the use of an inversion table, can benefit your spinal discs, strengthen your ligaments and soft tissues, and relieve muscle spasms.
- Decreases Mood Swings
When blood circulation gets fine, this releases neurotransmitters, balances the hormones which make a person feel light hearted and more happy than usual. Inversions are said to control depression, premenstrual symptoms and mood swings.
Excuse me… I feel the need to go stand on my head.
More reading… Everybody Upside-Down (Yoga Journal.com)