Yoga Inversions – should you or shouldn’t you?

pincha2When your heart is higher than your head, you place your body in an unusual configuration.

I’ve learnt from my personal practice that not only do the inversions shift your relationship with gravity, they challenge your perceptions and they may evoke fear. But if you conquer your weaknesses you end up with a rewarding sensation which is motivational and reenergizing.

However, I know that not everyone will agree with me. What I can do, by means of this article, is try to bring out the pros and cons of doing inversions to light.

Why should you do inversions?

  1. Getting inverted reverses the blood flow and improves the circulation.
  2. It uses gravity to provide brain with more oxygen and blood to improve mental functioning, increasing concentration, memory and processing abilities.
  3. It improves immunity. Lymph moves through the body to pick up the bacteria and toxins which are later eliminated by lymph nodes. This movement is largely due to muscle contraction and gravity so getting inverted helps lymph to travel easily to respiratory system where much toxins enter the body.
  4. Some heating inversions like headstand, arm stand and forearm stand are known to physically and mentally invigorate the practitioner.
  5. Cooling inversions like shoulder stand and legs-up-the-wall pose calm the nervous system, act on the parasympathetic nervous system producing a feeling of balance and calmness.
  6. Physically inversions improve body’s balance and core strength.
  7. Let’s accept it, they ARE fun. They reintroduce us to our inner child and remind us to remain light hearted in our asana practice.

Why shouldn’t you do inversions?

  1. Being inverted for more than a couple of minutes decreases the heartbeat and increases the blood pressure. Hence, if you have heart disease or hypertension, you should avoid inversions.
  2. If you have glaucoma or an eye injury you should stay off inversions as they put pressure on the head.
  3. Weak bones make for another reason to not go upside down. When you go inverted, the body weight pulls you down and provides traction. Though this might give you a short term relief from your nagging back problem but in the longer run it might be more damaging for people with weak bones, fractures which haven’t healed well, skeletal implants or spinal injuries.
  4. Medical conditions like hernia or middle ear infections are contraindicative for inversions.
  5. Inversions should be avoided during pregnancy as they can have damaging effects on the foetus as well as the mother’s health.
  6. Several traditional schools of yoga believe that inversions during your “ladies holiday” is a no-no. It’s a wise thought as we want to bring the energy downwards, instead of upwards during the periods.

If you are just starting out in your inversion practice, it may be challenging at first but going inverted may serve as a natural caffeine-free way to burst out of inertia and access hibernating stores of internal energy. Now to balance out the mental work you just did in reading this article, you might want to move to your mat and go upside down; or may be not! The real yoga is in knowing when to “back off”.


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