What’s Up With Inversions?

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By Susan Rappaport

Many go their entire lives without ever having their hearts above their heads let alone being upside down, so flipping the body over can be anxiety provoking to put it mildly. Still, if you have a chance to get your feet above your head, you might just like the way it makes you feel as well as the wealth of benefits it offers.

Aside from strengthening, inversions are thought to improve brain function, heart function, and expand lung capacity. They also stimulate neurotransmitters, balance hormones, and release endorphins.

When we can be curious and adventurous in our bodies, our mind-body connection grows deeper. Faith and ambition help us develop problem-solving skills and confidence, so exploring the body’s boundaries and capabilities, become more intriguing and desirable.

Inversions by nature usually place the heart higher than the head, improving blood circulation. This boost to the nervous and endocrine systems produces an uplifting, rejuvenating effect. Cultivates spatial awareness, concentration, and focus needed to come into and out of the posture.

While going upside down may seem freaky, there are many things we can learn from inversions. Inversions help us develop perseverance, centeredness, and a stronger ability to be in the present moment.

We learn whether we are open or closed to things that make us uncomfortable. We get to observe our tendencies and attitudes toward learning to do more in our bodies, plus we contemplate getting out of our comfort zone.

Some people just say no! Others need to know why we would do it and what purpose it serves. Many are willing to try if things progress slowly over time. Then there are those who jump right in eager to flip over. Either way, saying yes to inversions opens the door to a whole new perspective in life.

The word inversion in yoga refers to any poses where the head is below the heart. While certain inversions can be some of the most challenging poses to master in yoga, they also come packed with remarkable benefits. They reverse the aging force of gravity, stimulate circulation and promote brain clarity. They can lower blood pressure and relieve some compression on the spine, which reduces neck and back pain.

Though it may seem like inversions and arm balances are about strength, it is actually a delicate balance between weight distribution and organization of the body. Often people force themselves vigorously to get upside down, while other trusting yogi’s seem to fly up into inversions with ease.

Regular “Invertee’s” often find calmness through this practice and therefore experience less tension in everyday life. Inversions add a fresh new perspective, and can be just plain fun. They offer us an opportunity to get a little playful with our lives, and not take things so seriously.

There are a myriad of benefits from having an inversion practice. If you are considering shaking things UPside down on a regular basis, below are some of the outcomes that you can expect.

  1. Builds Core Strength When we stand, we can get lazy falling into gravity with our posture, allowing our core sag. But when we’re upside-down we have to engage our core to stay upright.
  2. Improves Balance Inversions add a new component to balance. They force you to learn to sense your body in space in a different way. Inversions help create a deeper level of body awareness and a power of putting thought into motion.
  3. Relieves Back Pain One of the benefits of inversions is the ability to flip gravity. The spine is one of the most important parts of the body and because inversions use gravity to pull the body in an opposite direction, inversions can offer much relief to those who experience back pain. Postures such as “legs up the wall” can be beneficial in decreasing back pain.
  4. Good For Heart HealthWhen you are upright, gravity pulls tissues and fluids in your body downward, so the heart has to work extra hard to pump blood back to the heart. Inversions reduce the strain on the heart, expands the lungs for clearer breathing, and increase the flow of blood to the brain, which calms and rejuvenates the mind.
  5. Detoxes the Lymphatic System Inversions decompress the joints of the body stimulating the lymphatic and circulatory system. This brings blood and oxygen to the tissues, which helps clear the muscles of toxic build-up.
  6. Lowers Blood Pressure While high blood pressure can be genetically pre-disposed or induced by lifestyle, there are many ways to help bring high blood pressure levels down and inversions are one of them. In an inverted position, gravity causes pressure to increase inside the blood vessels, which counteracts the pressure of the vessels inside of the body. Inversions can aid in lowering blood pressure in individuals suffering from high blood pressure issues.
  7. Makes People Happy  Inversion practices have proven to help lift spirits by increasing circulation. Many practitioners have claimed that the higher blood flow during inversions has markedly increased their endorphin levels. When the endorphin flow is increased, hormone levels that cause symptoms of anxiety and depression decrease.

Here Are A Few Inversions You Can Try

1) Downward Dog

Is the most widely known yoga posture and is an inversion. Initially downward dog can be difficult and stressful to manage while the wrists, fingers and forearms get stronger; but then it becomes easeful and offers you the opportunity to invert over and over times during many yoga classes.

2) Legs Up the Wall

This restorative and gentle anti-aging posture promotes peacefulness and satisfaction. Sit on the floor and scoot your bottom right to a wall. Then rock your legs and feet up the wall so your legs and hips are at a 90-degree angle. This resting pose sooths the nervous system relaxes the mind, and slows the heart rate.

3) Supported Shoulder Stand (should be performed under the guidance of a professional)

This inversion is a little more active, but still one most can enjoy. Come to a bridge, place a block under your sacrum and bring the legs up, knees soft and soles up to the ceiling. Supported shoulder stand is realistic and offers all the benefits of inverting.

4) Forearm Stand (should only be performed under the guidance of a professional)

Forearm Stand, is similar to a headstand but applies no pressure to the neck. Place the forearms on the floor with the hands about 5 inches away from the wall, interlaced at the fingers. Place the pinky side down making a cradle for the head, with the elbows shoulder distance apart. Apply pressure on the forearms from elbows to wrists, and wrists to pinky fingers so the forearms are grounded and walk the feet in toward the elbows. Place the weight equally in the arms and one foot, and lift the other leg up. Have a seasoned professional bring the lifted leg up onto the wall behind, and then bring the second leg up to meet it. Make sure to push the floor away lengthening the body long so the feet are reaching up toward the ceiling so the core doesn’t sink down putting pressure on your neck. If there is any pressure in your neck come out of the pose.

5) Pike Handstand (should only be performed under the guidance of a professional)

Handstands and Headstands turn you upside down and give you a whole new perspective on life. To do a pike handstand, sit with your back against the wall with the legs stretched straight to measure where you should place your hands. Stand up facing away from the wall and place your hands where your feet were, making sure that they are shoulder distance apart. Come to a downward facing dog position with the heels up against the wall. With the support of a seasoned professional who is an expert in assisting with these poses, push the palms deeply into the floor grounding them as the legs walk up to wall, until your body is in an “L” shape/piked in a 90-degree angle. Lift up from the hands through the side-body, ribs, and buttock, building core strength and creating lightness in the hands.

If you are looking for something new in your life, maybe its time you try going head over heels… the results may surprise you. Reversing the effects of gravity, these poses cleanse, soothe, nourish and energize your body and mind, while stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system.

Make sure to check in with your doctor before trying anything like inversions. Especially if you have a condition like high blood pressure, glaucoma, detached retina, a heart concern, neck and/or spine injury, recent stroke, pregnancy, epilepsy or any other medical ailment that requires ongoing care.

Before making the flip over, be sure to have proper instruction, assistance, and support from an experienced professional who can guide you carefully through the steps. Like any exercise, it is important to listen to your body while practicing inversions. Begin where you feel comfortable and grow slowly from there. You will be surprised how something that seems so trivial can make such an impact on your life.

Susan Rappaport is the founder of NuYu Revolution. NuYu is a thoughtful and compassionate exercise studio designed to build solid foundations for a healthy, ongoing relationship with fitness. Organic growth, realistic goals and easefulness keep members committed. The class-only experiences educate students in correct posture, alignment and breathing above intensity, preserving the musculoskeletal system. Offerings include Yoga, Mat Pilates, Posture Cycle®, Spine Align, and Mindful Strengthening at beginner, intermediate and advanced levels.

Their new, stylish 2,500 sq. ft. studio is located on 100th & Broadway

Visit our website: www.nuyurevolution.com

Contact, Susan@NuYuRevolution.com or call (212) 663-1114 to receive information on the Grand Opening promotional offer, available now through June 21st

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