What you need to know about inversions.

Inversions are yoga poses where the heart is higher from the ground than the head, such as handstands, headstands, downward dog etc. Inversions can often be presented as a competitive challenge, but this is really not what they are about. Inversions have many health benefits and although it can be a fantastic feeling when you can finally reach the goal of an inversion, that shouldn’t be the only focus.

When I incorporate inversions into my yoga classes, I’m usually focused on the stress relief aspect of them. Inversions send all the blood and oxygen to the brain, stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest nervous system) by activating the pineal and pituitary glands. These glands are part of the endocrine system – a collection of glands that produce and regulate hormones in line with the chemical messages it receives through the blood and nervous system. The pineal gland produces melatonin, modulating sleep patterns. The pituitary gland is particularly important to the regulation of hormones as it controls several other hormone glands in the body such as the thyroid and reproductive organs, regulating and releasing a number of hormones such as growth hormones, oxytocin (referred to as the love hormone), endorphins (happy hormones) and many more. This is why getting upside down can make you feel really happy!

This isn’t the only positive point to inversions either. They improve blood circulation, promote lymphatic drainage (the removal of toxins away from the tissues), boost metabolic function and digestion to name a few! There aren’t many downsides to including inversions into your practice – they don’t have to be hard to get the same effects.

Always take cautions with inversions. There are a few contraindications for these poses such as: anyone with serious eye problems such as glaucoma; menstrual cycle; serious back or injuries and more. Go to a yoga class first before practicing on your own, and always research inversions before you try them if you’re unsure of whether you should perform them. Any challenging yoga inversions should always be taught with an experienced yoga instructor and practised a few times before attempting on your own. There are lots of simple inversions, such as legs up the wall pose which should work for most people and have less risk involved – give them a try first and see how you feel afterwards!

If you want to join one of my yoga classes, I teach at The Gym Group Leeds Headrow and teach both free and specific paid classes. You can have a look at the classes via the link attached below.

Alix x

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