Why you should get topsy-turvy!
One of my most vivid primary school memories is lining up with my friends along the playground wall in a neat row of handstands!
We loved being ‘topsy-turvy’!
Because I was only 10 years old, I didn’t think too much about how amazing my body and mind felt after doing an inversion.
What 10-year-old would?
Now that I’m all grown-up, I understand what happens psychologically and physiologically to cause the wonderful feeling I experienced all those years ago.
And, of course, I’d like to share these benefits of inversions with you!
But before we do, let’s make one thing clear:
You don’t have to be a contorted acrobat or even particularly strong to practise inversions.
In fact, you don’t need any special skills at all.
Any position where your head is below your heart will do the trick. One of my favourite inversions, ‘Legs up the Wall’ pose, is accessible to almost everybody. Like the name implies, you simply lie on your back with your bottom next to a wall and rest your legs above you.
A word of caution:
Before you jump into discovering the benefits of inversions, double check with your doctor that they are safe for you. Some inversions aren’t advisable for people with heart conditions, eye problems, back or neck issues. They are also not recommended for women during the heaviest days of menstruation.
However, if you are in general good health, a whole new perspective awaits you!
So, here are my top 3 benefits of turning your world upside-down for your mind, body and spirit.
1. Calm the mind
Is being head over heels calming?
It might not seem obvious but being inverted is especially calming for the body because it stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system.
As the polar opposite to our ‘fight or flight’ response, the parasympathetic nervous system helps the body to digest and rest.
Like in meditation, by focussing single-pointedly during our inversion practice, we slow down the breath and calm the mind.
The resulting effect is that your mind feels much calmer and more relaxed after even a short time spent upside down.
2. Give your body a boost
Have you ever heard that yogis never get sick?
Well, perhaps it has something to do with the time they spend upside down!
Now, I can’t say that I never get a cold, but here’s the science to support the claim that inversions improve our immunity to disease.
By spending a little time upside down, we assist the lymphatic system – the biggest player in boosting our immunity.
The lymphatic system removes toxins from our bodies by catching them in lymph which is then transported to the glands.
But lymph can only move with the help of muscular contractions or our good old friend – gravity!
That’s how inversions assist these movements and strengthen the immune system.
3. Free your spirit!
Feeling a bit ‘meh’?
Try getting upside down!
Believe me, it helps.
A few minutes upside down stimulates the endocrine system. This can help the ‘feel-good’ hormone endorphin to circulate throughout the body.
We can help ourselves even more by remembering to have fun with our inversion practice.
When you are ready for more challenging inversions, be playful in your approach and enjoy the experience.
I do all the time!
Learning to embrace failure helps us to stay positive and be light-hearted throughout the rest of our day.
Are you ready to turn your world upside down?
Inversions teach us to look at things from a different perspective. They change the way we look at things – literally and figuratively!
So, start slow and pick the inversions that feel right for you – ‘Legs up the Wall’, ‘Standing Forward Fold’, ‘Downward Dog’, ‘Shoulder Stand’, ‘Handstand’ or any other that appeals to you.
Remember, it’s not a competition.
The aim is to feel relaxed and energised in mind and body.
Maybe just holding for a few breaths is enough to start.
You won’t get a prize for holding the longest handstand like we did when we were 10, but I hope you feel as good as we did back then!
Tell me how being topsy-turvy makes you feel and any other benefits of inversions that you have discovered in the comments below.
PS Get in touch if you have a great idea for a blog post – I’d love to hear from you!
- Aparigraha – do for the sake of doing
- Brahmacharya – the secret to inner joy
- A Yoga Workshop to Balance Yin & Yang On & Off The Mat
- Yoga Weekend Getaway
- Asteya – Stop stealing and start giving today!