Better Health with Yoga Inversions
An inversion is an asana that brings the heart above the head and thus reverses the downward pulling effects of gravity on the body (such as Sirsasana, Sarvangasana). These asanas fully invert the body by elevating the legs. This contributes greatly to the overall effect.
The venous system relies mainly on peristaltic movement, muscle contraction and blood pressure to return blood to the heart. By elevating the legs, gravity can now aid in returning venous blood to the lungs for gas exchange and an increased supply of oxygen, increasing mental function. The veins will also benefit from the reduction in pressure, alleviating varicose veins in the legs.
When the heart is inverted, it is conditioned by working opposite the usual pull of gravity. The atria of the heart will now have to pump against the flow of gravity and will become stronger as a harder contraction will be required to push blood into the ventricles. The ventricles will also be working a little harder to push blood into the lower extremities and will become stronger as well. Over time, a stronger heart will be more efficient and stroke volume will increase.
Lymphatic return is also improved with inversions. The lymph system is responsible for the collection of excess fluids in the body and defends against infection by filtering the fluid before returning it to bloodstream. The lymph is returned to the bloodstream in the neck. Like the veins, the lymphatic system has very little pressure to move it along so must rely on muscle contraction or inversions to keep it flowing. Inverting the body will aid in returning lymph to the bloodvessels in the neck and reduce fluid accumulation (edema) in the lower extremities.
Another great benefit to inverting the body is improved strength in the upper extremities. Our legs become very strong holding our bodies up all day–this gives the arms a turn!
While inversions may not be for everyone, (contraindicated for high blood pressure, pregnancy, glaucoma, neck pain/injury) there are many benefits to practicing them. Let’s flip!