Amazing Health Benefits to Inversions

Apart from making a great photo on Instagram, practicing inversions has many amazing benefits on the body and mind. Simply put, inversions are asanas in which the head is below the heart, so it’s not always necessary to kick up into a fancy handstand to achieve this.  For example, gentle inversions include the downward facing dog, supported shoulder stand and the dolphin pose. 

Here are 5 great reasons to get upside down on a regular basis.

1. Inversions boost your immune system
Practicing inversions stimulate the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is mainly responsible for clearing out toxins and wastes in the body, which is crucial to maintaining a healthy body.  Lymphatic function supports the immune system, as well as other systems housed in the body. 

2. Inversions give you energy
It’s no surprise that inversions send more blood flow to the brain.  Being upside down allows the blood to carry fresh oxygen and nutrients to the brain, resulting in mental invigoration.  Body heating inversions such as the headstand and handstand are extremely energising, which also strengthens the body, as an added bonus.  When you feel that afternoon slump creep up, pop up into a headstand for a natural energy lift.

3. Inversions give your heart a well-deserved break
Inversions encourage venous blood to return to the heart.  Being upside down reverses the blood flow into the body and assists the return of blood flow back towards the heart. 

4. Inversions calm the nervous system and relax the mind
“Cooling” inversions such as Viparita Karani (legs up the wall) activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which serves as the “rest & digest” response.  It activates the tranquil functions of the body.  Practicing inversions on a regular basis could aid in stimulating these functions, which produces feelings of relaxation and peace.  

5. Helps you to have some fun!
The most important benefit is that turning upside down is all-around fun! Kicking up into a headstand and connecting to the inner child is a playful experience any time of the day.  This is something adults in this fast-paced world forget to do. 

Play, have fun and let go!
Inversions also provide a confidence boost.  Facing fears during the first attempt at an advanced inversion like headstand or forearm balance is not a piece of cake.  But remember, the blissful feeling of finally holding up a pose is a great accomplishment and quite unexplainable. Practicing inversions can become metaphors in life, a way of achieving goals through persistence and hard work that once seemed impossible.

I hope reading this has inspired you to start and include more inversions into your Yoga or general fitness practice.  If you are a beginner, start by adding basic inversions such as the downward dog or shoulder stands.  Build up the arm strength with poses like dolphin plank and add more core work to your daily routine to help establish balance and strength.

But most importantly, listen to your body and recognise the incredible things you are doing for yourself every time you turn upside down.

Written By:   Kayleigh Alwill
200 RYT, Meditation Teacher, Health and Wellness blogger, Mental Health activist.
Kayleigh runs Yoga classes and workshops in and around London. Since completing her Yoga training in India, Kayleigh has developed a strong interest in alternative medicine and continues her studies in Ayurveda and Yoga therapy. She works with local mental health charities teaching meditation techniques and runs regular Yoga classes and workshops. Website: www.gajayoga.co.uk