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What Happens to Your Body When You Start Doing Yoga Inversions?

Naturally, as human beings, we spend the majority of our lives walking and sitting upright with little thought of how this affects our bodies. And, why would we? This is all part of the human design, isn’t it?

While this is normal, natural and part of being human, our upright posture can actually affect our heart.

Think about it: when our heart is always below our head, it has to pump extra hard to send oxygenated blood throughout the body. This doesn’t mean that you should all-of-a-sudden learn how to walk on your hands, but dedicating a little time everyday to get upside down— even if it’s just for five minutes— can ease the burden on our hearts, as well as offer many other benefits.

inversion yoga

Gravity really takes a toll on our bodies and, over the years, we begin to see the effects taking hold. Some of these symptoms can include  inflammation in the tissue, poor digestion and circulation, as well as memory loss, spinal pain, and joint discomfort. When we flip our bodies upside down, literally turning the force of gravity around, we allow our tissues to drain and our heart to pump more efficiently as blood makes its way through our vital organs. When inversions are done properly and consistently, they can have an undeniable effect on our digestive system, lymphatic system, nervous system and cardiovascular system.

Implementing yoga inversions into your at home yoga routine can not only transform your practice, but also unlock some pretty amazing benefits that your body will be sure to thank you for later in life. 

Increases lymphatic drainage 

When the lymphatic system isn’t functioning as well as it was designed, we start to experience inefficient circulation, inflammation, and a buildup of waste materials. Gravity can cause fluids to pool in our feet, ankles, and lower legs, which can cause us to feel extremely sluggish and uncomfortable. Inversions help our lymphatic system work more efficiently in helping fluids drain correctly and ensuring our body filters waste properly.

inversion yoga

Helps to lower blood pressure

Inversions increase the fluids moving toward the heart, which helps relieve cardiovascular stress. With the pressure of blood within your body reversed, the heart doesn’t have to work as hard to circulate oxygenated blood properly throughout the body. By simply practicing simple yoga inversions like downward dog or legs up the wall, you can experience lower blood pressure, a slower heart rate and a pleasant sense of calm and well-being, all without having to overexert yourself.  

Reduces back pain 

Spinal pain can often be intensified by the pressure of gravity, which is why so many of us who suffer from back pain spend a significant amount of time lying down. Inversions allow the spine to decompress and relieve pressure by reversing gravity’s force. This can improve your posture and alleviate back pain, making inversions a great alternative to lying flat on your back when you feel discomfort. 

inversion yoga

Safety first...

While there are many benefits, there are also some inevitable risks of yoga inversions. To do inversion yoga safely, there are some contraindications and precautions to know about before jumping into some difficult yoga positions. 

When practicing inversions, always pay careful attention to your abilities, have patience, and listen to your body. If practicing with an instructor, make sure they’re aware of any injuries or conditions you have so they can better assist you; previous neck injuries and high blood pressure, for example, may prevent you from practicing certain inversions. Never force an inversion, or any other pose, and if it doesn’t feel right, simply come out of the position. As always, ask your instructor to help you make sure you move into each inverted posture with care to avoid injury. 

When done safely, inversion yoga can provide an array of benefits that can transform your practice. If you aren’t able to perform more difficult yoga inversions, then opt for a modified version that will still provide you with the same benefits. As always, respect your journey by listening to your body, understanding your limits, and giving gratitude for the time spent on your mat!


About the Author

inversion yoga

Brandi Boers is the co-founder of Elevate Yoga + Wellness in Phoenix, Arizona. Brandi is a certified E-RYT 200 and Aerial Yoga Instructor.


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