Sunday, September 23, 2012

Yoga Upside Down

When my grandson was younger he used to love being upside down.  I would grab Ethan by the ankles and help him as he would walk on his hands, laughing and giggling. Or he would lie on the couch and hang his head off the edge of it and just chill.  I have often said that since his mom did yoga when she was pregnant with him, he got used to being upside down and tumbled about as his mom went through the different yoga poses. To quote Eeyore, friend of Winnie the Pooh "Sometimes the world looks better upside down.”

When was the last time that you saw the world from Ethan's point of view?  For most us it may have been a while. Usually when I teach an inversion in my class, I tell the students that I would need hours to fully explain the benefits of being upside down. Now I am not just taking about the more advanced poses such as handstand or headstand. Even the gentlest pose of lying on your back with your legs up against the wall has powerful benefits. Modern yogis agree that Viparita Karani may have the power to cure whatever ails you. In fact downward facing dog and a standing forward fold are inversions.

Think of it this way, we stand, walk or sit most of our waking hours.  Or we are lying on the couch watching TV. I think it was Sir Isaac Newton that said "what comes up must come down". Gravity is a powerful force. This nonstop pull of gravity can have some undesired effects in our bodies over the years. Over time, it causes our bodies to literally shrink. Our spinal columns compress, our organs grow sluggish, our skin droops.

Although we cannot fight gravity, in yoga we can use its pull to our advantage. When we turn the body upside down, we reverse the pull of gravity and create long-lasting benefits for our entire system. Some claim that for every minute spent in headstand, the aging process is suspended. Inversions allow a fresh flow of blood to the brain, they enable you to see the world from Ethan's point of view and, when you can get your legs above your heart, they provide a much-welcomed rest for the circulatory system. If you are agitated an inversion will calm you down, if you are lethargic, it will help perk you up.

Not sure what kind of inversion works best for you? Ask your trusted yoga teacher.  If you are new at inversions start with your legs up against the wall.  You can even put a bolster or folded blanket under your hips to make it more of an inversion.  As with any yoga pose honor your body and don't go past your edge. Stay there for a few minutes when you first start out, but as you get more experienced you can stay in the pose for up to 15 minutes. To come out of the pose, bring your knees into your chest, roll to one side and slowly push yourself up to seated. 

Ahhhh, better now?  And of course don't forget to breath.

No comments:

Post a Comment