The Ups and Downs of Yoga Inversions
If you were to walk into a yoga class at the right time, it might appear more like an audition for Cirque de Soleil or the United States Gymnastics Team. You see people walking on their hands; others are propped up against a mirror balancing on their heads; and some are even bouncing from handstands into no-legged push-ups. It’s partially impressive and intimidating at the same time.
While this might be an exaggeration, many yoga classes have sequences that strategically culminate into a peak posture. Peak postures never have to be inversions, but they can be.
Because inversions are so prevalent in yoga, we wanted to demystify what inversions are, the benefits they offer, and ways to add them into your yoga repertoire – if you want!
What Constitutes an Inversion?
An inversion is any posture where your head is below your heart (you could also think of it as your heart being higher than your head).
Common examples of inversions include downward dog, plow pose, standing wide-legged fold, handstand, and headstand variations. This means that inversions aren’t just those showy postures that you see expert yogis perform. They can also be more relaxing – like rag doll pose.
Inversions are a staple in yoga classes — and peak postures — because they have so many benefits for your body.
Benefits of inversions include:
- Strengthening: Many inversion are linked to arm balances, so you are strengthening while you invert. Believe it or not, the strength of most inversions come from your core rather than your arms, so they really are a great full-body strengthener.
- Lymphatic drainage: Lymphatic drainage might not sound like a good thing, but it really is. By flipping your body around and defying the traditional flow of gravity, you flush out toxins and revitalize your organs.
- Nervous System Function: Depending on the inversion, you can either energize or calm down your body. Headstands and handstands serve to stimulate and create heat in the body, while inversions like standing forward folds relax your nervous system and cool you down.
- Resilience: While not an explicit physical benefit, resilience is a mental benefit to developing an inversion practice.
As the benefits suggest, inversions are also so common because they have such diverse benefits. Yoga teachers can add different inversions into their yoga class flow depending on whether they want to heat up the room, start a cool down, or work on core strength.
How Can You Improve Your Inversions?
It is easy during a yoga class to remain in child’s pose and watch other people knock against the front mirrors rather than take the risk yourself. One way to become more confident in inversions, especially ones like headstand and handstand, is to take an inversion clinic or workshop.
In inversion workshops, unlike traditional yoga clinics, you can focus totally on inversions, learn safe techniques, and get insight directly from the instructor. Yoga Pod Fort Collins is offering Flight School for
this very reason. Anyone from beginner yoga students to seasoned handstand practitioners can benefit from this class, as it covers the anatomy, mental preparation, and safety of inversions.
When you have the space to learn safe techniques from expert yoga teachers, you will feel much more comfortable developing a stronger inversion practice. Sign up for this workshop and check out other trainings today at Yoga Pod Fort Collins!
A Note About Inversions
While achieving a complete handstand might look and feel awesome, always remember that the ultimate form of yoga is listening to your own body. Inversions are not accessible for everyone on every day, and a lot of this has to do with the shape of your shoulders, the flexibility in your hamstrings, and the stability of your core.
Yoga classes rely on inversions for a reason. Getting your body upside down comes with amazing physical benefits, mental practice in facing your fears, and a shift in perspective. At your next yoga class, give an inversion a try! If you want to learn more about inversion safety, consider joining our Flight School workshop or chat with any of our staff at Yoga Pod Fort Collins!