The Benefits of Yoga Inversions

Woman doing an inverted yoga pose

Why Yoga Inversions Are Good For The Mind and Body

Do you perform any inverted poses when you practice yoga? Adding a few inversions to your yoga routine offers a simple way to improve your physical and mental health.

Not Just Headstands

A headstand is probably the first pose that comes to mind when you think of inversions. Although this pose certainly qualifies, you don't have to turn completely upside down to enjoy the benefits of inversion. If a pose involves dropping your head below your heart, it's considered an inversion.

Inversions include extended puppy, downward-facing dog, feathered peacock, legs up the wall, plow, dolphin, standing forward fold, wide-legged forward bend, wall T-stand, shoulder stand, and other poses that keep your head low.

How Inversion Helps You

The effects of gravity take a toll on your body. From posture issues to sluggish circulation, gravity can make your body function less efficiently. Inversion poses modify some of the less desirable effects of gravity and may offer several health benefits, including:

  • Better Blood Circulation. Blood provides vital oxygen and nutrients to your organs, muscles, and tissues. If circulation is sluggish, your health can be affected. Inversions offer a simple way to improve blood flow to every part of your body and temporarily decrease your heart's workload. Do your hands and feet tend to get cold? Inversions offer a natural warming effect by increasing blood flow to your extremities.
  • Easier Breathing. Inversions help blood reach the denser tissue in the lower part of your lungs. Increased blood flow to the lower lungs keeps the tissue healthier and may make it easier to inhale and breathe deeply.
  • Quicker Removal of Toxins. Inversions also improve the functioning of your lymphatic system. The system removes waste, bacteria, and toxins and keeps the fluids in your body balanced. Your lymphatic system also plays a crucial role in your immune system. Inversions bolster immune system functioning and make it easier for your body to remove toxins and waste materials.
  • Less Stress. Try an inversion pose the next time you feel stressed or anxious. Inversions send blood to your brain, which triggers that sense of calm you enjoy when you practice yoga.
  • Improved Cognitive Functioning. Increasing blood flow to the brain during an inversion may improve concentration, focus, and memory.
  • More Energy. Performing a few inversions can help you combat a mid-day slump.
  • Stronger Core. Inversions also strengthen the muscles in your core. The benefits of a strong core include improved posture, flexibility, balance, and stability. When your core is strong, it's easier to bend, lift, and move.
  • Fewer Perimenopausal and Menopausal Symptoms. Inverting your body may also help balance your hormones during perimenopause and menopause. Inversions can decrease irritability, mood swings, anxiety and insomnia, and improve memory.
  • Less Back and Neck Pain. Inversions strengthen your muscles and stretch your spine, which may help decrease back and neck pain.

Are Inversions Right for Everyone?

Although inversions are very beneficial, the poses may not be ideal if you have certain health conditions. Talk to your doctor before adding inversions to your yoga practice if you are pregnant, have a condition that affects your spine or neck, have uncontrolled high blood pressure, a heart condition, glaucoma, history of stroke, detached retina or epilepsy. Stop performing inversions if you feel strong pressure in your head, your eyes become bloodshot, or you experience pain in your head, neck or spine.

Good form is essential when performing inversions. Our instructors can help you perfect your inversions and enjoy the many benefits of yoga. Contact us if you're ready to enroll in a class.

Sources:

Yoga Journal: Yoga for Menopause, 8/28/07

Yoga Journal: Everybody Upside Down, 4/13/17

Body + Soul: Upside-Down Workouts Are the Latest Trend You Need to Know About, 9/15/19

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