Let’s play! The upside-down way!
Recently, I have found myself asking why practice inversions? I see yogis bringing the power of balance and breath into their hands, their forearms, their shoulders, and their heads. Many yogis would agree that inversions are not only good for bringing playfulness into their practice, but to help reset the whole body system. Inversions include any asana that brings the head below the heart level, which helps to rejuvenate and realign the body and the mind. I have come to the conclusion that exploring the playful possibilities of inversions should be a practice we all welcome, and the next few paragraphs will offer health benefits to inverting, and reasons why we should all strive to turn our world upside-down.
So why invert? The answer is simple. We invert because inversions help to reverse the blood and oxygen flow in the body. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to stand on your hands or your head to improve circulation. A simple down dog reaps the same benefits. As long as your head is below your heart, gravity can easily assist you in bringing more blood and oxygen to the brain. This in turn can improve memory, mental functioning, concentration, and the overall processing ability of the brain.
Another reason to invert is that inversions have the ability to energize and relax the body. When we invert, especially in heating inversions, such as headstand, handstand, forearm balances, we guide more blood into the brain. This increase in blood levels brings new energy to the body and the mind. Suddenly, you are feeling more capable of taking on the next task at hand, more clear headed, and invigorated. The body and mind can also find a great sense of calm in inversions. Cooling inversions, such as shoulder stand and resting with your legs up the wall, allows you to tap into the parasympathetic nervous system. This allows you to feel balanced as well as relaxed, something we all strive for in our yoga practice.
Finally, inversions can allow you to access a new perspective, as well as help you get to know your personal playfulness. Many of us live a routine lifestyle; every day is planned and schedules rule our lives. The beauty of inversions, the act of dropping our head below the heart, helps to instill in us the idea that there is a new way to approach life. This way doesn’t include routine, time slots, or us running on autopilot. This new perspective comes with the ability to recognize that we too can find new ways to approach life’s situations, our relationships, and our yoga practice. We have the ability to learn new things every day, to feel new emotions, to experience a different life, different sensations. We have the ability to do anything we set our minds to, for we are in control. Once we realize this, there is nothing but fun to be had. We are guided into understanding that our asana practice should be lively and playful. This way, we look forward to stepping on our mat, stepping out of our routines, and stepping into the beautiful life of a yogi. Just remember, even if it seems impossible, inversions are truly a beautiful way to get to know yourself as well as your ability to welcome the hesitation and fear of learning something new. So try it out, turn your world upside-down and see the positive turn your life takes. I dare you.