Yoga Inversions: For the Fun (& Health) of It!
By: Mary Von Ahnen
Above Photo: Carson Clay Calhoun is one of the most famous inversion artists in the world coming soon to Horizon Hot Yoga in Frisco.
Ever feel like your day is upside down? Hooray for you! Make it intentional and develop an Inversion Practice. Often, we think of inversion practices as only for the most skilled yogis who can do headstands and handstands. Not true! Anyone at any level can do inversions. Read on for the benefits and suggestions.
Inversions are simply yoga poses that position your heart higher than your head. Simple inversions are part of many yoga classes. You can take the benefits to the next level by carving out time regularly to focus on gaining experience in these playful and beneficial poses.
The health advantages of an inversion practice are many:
- Increased muscle strength. Shoulder, arm, and core muscles are all activated during inversions. We often find ourselves with stronger lower bodies than upper bodies. Inversions balance us out.
- Improved circulation. When your body is inverted, the blood flow to your brain is notably increased. This helps to improve your ability to concentrate, process tasks, and maintain mental stamina. Also, blood carries oxygen and nutrients that nourish your brain. The increased flow from inversions contributes to better brain health.
- Increased energy. Some inversions can help heat the body (particularly headstands, handstands, and forearm stands). This increased heat produces higher energy levels.
- Some inversions cool the body (such as shoulder stands and wall t-stand). Cooling inversions activate the parasympathetic nervous system, calming the body and mind and giving you a sense of balance and peace.
- Increased immunity. Your lymphatic system is the foundation for your body’s immune system. Lymph moves through your body picking up toxins to be eliminated. This process occurs through muscle contraction and gravity. When you are inverted, lymph moves more easily to important areas like the lungs and can protect you from disease.
- Improved balance and posture. With the core strength built from inversions, your physical balance will improve greatly, protecting you from falls and keeping your body synchronized, which will reduce injuries in general. Good balance and posture also contribute to a strong spine, which is vital for lifelong health.
- Gain patience and confidence. Yoga is a journey. Every time you try an inversion, you learn to be patient with yourself. Start with what is easy and give yourself permission to keep challenging yourself with more difficult postures. Each time you fall out, patiently try again. You are human. With practice, you will achieve mastery. Accomplishing something that took effort will bring confidence that will carry you in other areas of your life as well.
- Fun! Remember the spontaneity of handstands, cartwheels, and hanging upside down off the jungle gym as a kid? Practicing inversions is joyful. You’re pushing your body in a new way, and you will delight in the sensations that will arise.
Here are a few great inversion postures:
- Plow Pose
- Shoulder Stand
- Wall T-stand
- Forward Fold
- Down Dog
More advanced inversions
- Bridge Pose
- Wheel Pose
- Crow Pose
- Feathered Peacock (Forearm Stand)
As with any yoga posture, be safe and prudent. If an inversion hurts in a way that is not just a new stretch, don’t do it. Also, inversions should be accompanied by a counter-pose, like fish pose or a reclining twist. If you are in doubt, ask an experienced yoga teacher to help guide you in what’s right for you. At Horizon Hot Yoga, most of our teachers have an inversion practice and would be happy to demonstrate the proper form of inversions and help you develop your own routine.
Interested in learning from a master?
Carson Clay Calhoun is one of the most famous inversion artists in the world. He’s a self-described “Handstand-Up Comedian” and combines his love for being upside-down with his natural ability to make people laugh. During his classes, workshops, and retreats, students are encouraged to push their limits and explore their edge, while maintaining a playful attitude. In every instance, you can be sure to break a sweat, learn something new, and leave with a smile on your face. As a movement enthusiast, Carson incorporates a variety of disciplines into his yoga classes, which focus on building a strong mind and body.
Carson is presenting workshops at Horizon Hot Yoga in Frisco on April 1 – 4, including an Ashtanga Vinyasa Remix, Power Vinyasa, Beginners Handstand Workshop, and a special 20-hour Rocket Yoga Teacher Intensive. Visit www.horizonhotyoga.com for more information!