Yoga inversions can be loosely translated as poses that hold the heart higher than the head. In some poses not only is the heart above the head, the feet are too!
When the body inverts, the action of gravity is reversed: instead of everything being pulled towards the feet, the orientation shifts towards the head. Similarly, on the emotional and psychic levels, inverted asanas turn everything upside down, throwing a new light on old patterns of behaviour and being.
Inversions improve the functioning of the circulatory, lymphatic, nervous and endocrine systems by reversing the natural flow of blood, metabolic waste and stress hormones throughout the body. Other physical benefits of inversions include strengthening muscles in the neck, back, shoulders and core.
Flipping upside down is said to improve health, reduce anxiety, lower stress and increase self-confidence. Generally, these practices are refreshing and revitalising. They challenge the body and mind. Through increasing our ability to adapt to change, instead of being stuck in habitual responses, we increase our capacity for growth and transformation.
Inverted asanas are very powerful practices and must be performed correctly with utmost care. It’s important to have a firm padded surface away from furniture or anything that might impede a free fall to the floor and to practice on an empty stomach. It’s also advised to hold the poses for a few seconds initially, building the duration over time and practice. Always listen to your body, honour it’s needs and practice safely.
It is not advisable to practice inversions if one has heart conditions, high blood pressure, a history of stroke or heart disease; diabetes; pregnancy beyond the first trimester; glaucoma or other eye disorders; spinal problems or chronic neck pain; excess weight; dizziness, head injuries, or inner ear problems; hernia; or osteoporosis.