Inversions and their benefits
Disclaimer: The information in this article and site are not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. While these benefits have been tested in smaller studies, the results are not conclusive until larger studies are done. Consult your doctor before starting inversion therapy.
Inversions do not only have to be done in balance through headstands and handstands. You could simply put your self into Downward facing dog and have the same benefits.
1. Better Posture.
Inverting can actually increase your posture, because while we are upside down our core is engaged. Better posture is not just one of those things your mom nagged you about – it’s good for your back too.
Please be mindful, that inversions through headstands can actually compress the neck causing more challenges, so only do headstands if you are at an advanced level or with the supervision of a trained Yoga Instructor.
2. Decreased Back Pain.
Going upside down can increase the distance between the vertebrae in your back, which can temporarily relieve back pain. Inverting could also prevent you from needing surgery if you have a slipped disc. A 2012 study found that 77% of patients who did inversions and physical therapy ended up not needing back surgery, versus 22% of patients who only underwent physical therapy.
Have a bad back? I would not be suggesting headstands and handstands. Look at the pictures above for variations of inversions.
3. Improved Circulation.
Hanging upside down makes it feel like all the blood is rushing to your brain. When you invert, your circulation improves which is better for your skin. Better circulation has been linked to fewer wrinkles and less acne.
4. More Flexibility.
Having stiff joints is not only uncomfortable – it can also be painful. But inversion has been shown to actually increase flexibility.
5. Improved Brain Function.
This one goes hand in hand with #3. If the blood flow throughout your body has increased then you can count on your brainpower to increase as well. You might expect improved memory and clearer thinking. I would even incorporate a little self care maintenance here.
6. Improved Mood.
Inverting – either through yoga or using a table – has actually been effective in decreasing feelings of anxiety and stress. That’s not too surprising because if it can help you reduce some of your back pain, that would automatically contribute to stress reduction. In some cases, inversion can even be used to fight depression.
Yogis in India have experimented with their own bodies and breath in search of enlightenment for at least 5,000 years. What they came to understand about themselves was a direct result of sustained self-study and contemplation, or svadhyaya.
In their stringent meditation and ascetic practices, over the slow unfolding of days and months and years, they came to know and love the deep, enduring movements in the body—the pulse and rhythm of fluids and electric charges—and put exercises, images, and language to those movements, so we could follow.
The ancient texts state that there are seven main chakras (or psychic energy centers) along the vertical axis of the body. At the risk of being reductive, one might describe hatha yoga as practices designed to raise prana, or life force, up the spine, the path of the chakras. David Gordon White, in his fascinating book, The Alchemical Body: Siddha Traditions in Medieval India, writes of an “inner void” that begins at the muladhara chakra at the base of the spine. It runs upward through the heart, and ends at the fontanelle, or “cleft of brahman,” known as thebrahmarandra, in the cranial vault. He quotes the Kathaka Upanishad (6.16), which states: “There are a hundred and one channels of the heart. One of these passes up to the crown of the head. Going up by it, one goes to immortality.”
The Natha siddhas and other Tantric schools, forebears of the hatha yoga tradition, believed thatamrita, the nectar of immortality, was held within the cranial vault, at the seventh chakra, thesahasrara chakra. The valued nectar, meting out our days, dropped down through the center of the body and was consumed in the fire of the torso. Turn yourself upside down, the reasoning went, and amrita would be retained, thus prolonging life and preserving one’s prana.
The Pradipika lists Viparita Karani Mudra as one of “the ten mudras which conquer old age and death.” Unfortunately, that requires a daily practice of Viparita Karani Mudra for three hours!
From the Goraksha Shataka, a twelfth- or thirteenth-century text on hatha yoga, we learn that “in the region of the navel dwells the lonely sun, whose essence is fire; located at the base of the palate is the eternal moon, whose essence is nectar. That which rains down from the downturned mouth of the moon is swallowed by the upturned mouth of the sun. The practice [of Viparita Karani] is to be performed as a means to obtaining the nectar [which would otherwise be lost].” This History Article was written by: http://www.yogajournal.com/article/practice-section/everybody-upside-down/
Love and Peace Leisa
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