A form of ancient yoga practice, the asanas included in inversion yoga have poses that keep the hips and heart above the head. It does sound challenging, but the poses get more difficult gradually, allowing your body to adapt from the easier ones, like the standing forward bends, to the more complicated headstand poses.
Despite the challenge of practicing inversion yoga, the benefits of inversion yoga include developing balance, flexibility, and muscle strength. Other benefits practitioners notice are improved posture, improved mood, body tone, and energy levels.
The Power of Inversions
Inversions in yoga postures require the body to turn upside down relative to its standard orientation. They include popular asanas that are simple to perform, like downward-facing dog and the legs up the wall pose.
However, once you become more experienced, you’ll even manage the more complicated handstands, headstands, and shoulder stands. Exploring the new challenges of these poses allows practitioners of inversion yoga to discover perspectives constantly.
The point of inverting the body is to reverse the effects of gravity that cause physical stress to the body. Yogis practice inversion yoga because it allows them to challenge their practice safely and increase their mindfulness.
Exploring Yoga Inversions
Yoga inversions are postures where the body is turned upside down. There are two types of inversions: half inversions with your head below only your heart and hips or a full inversion with the head below your heart and legs.
Even though the aim is to reach the trickier inversions with time, you don’t have to start with these if you aren’t ready. With Inversions yoga, it’s important to listen to your body and have a qualified teacher to lead you through the correct alignment and technique required for each pose.
Inversion yoga poses help strengthen and stretch different muscle groups in your body as they help support your body weight, maintain proper alignment, and keep your balance.
There are several benefits to Inversion yoga. However, they also work several major muscles, helping you build flexibility and strength:
The core muscles, like the rectus abdominis (six pack), obliques, and transverse abdominis, play a stabilizing role for the body during inversions. These muscles help keep the core or base solid and stable, essential for mastering inversions like the forearm stand.
Upper Body Muscles
Several poses in Inversions yoga target the upper body muscles like arms, chest, and shoulders. The stronger these muscles, the better they can support your body weight during upside-down poses like the Crane or a Headstand.
Some inversions require the neck muscles to support the head and neck. It’s important not to strain your neck muscles during inversions, so always practice caution by listening to your body and going only as far as you feel comfortable.
Strong leg muscles like the quads, glutes, hamstrings, and inner thighs ensure you can give your lift when needed for poses like headstands. The leg muscles also help you maintain balance during a pose.
Unlocking the Benefits
The benefits of Inversions yoga include physical and psychological boosters:
Building Muscle Strength – Practicing inversions will help strengthen all major muscle groups, including the arms, back, legs, and core abdominal muscles.
Better Balance and Flexibility – When doing inversions, you must keep to the principle of “drawing into the mid-line,” which helps improve balance. As you develop better body-mind awareness, you will have better body control, helping your balance and flexibility.
Better Circulation and Immunity – Yoga inversion increases blood circulation and lymphatic drainage, helping deliver oxygen and nutrients throughout the body while removing waste. The reason is that inverted poses help deoxygenated blood return to the lungs for more oxygen, which it takes to the vital organs, including the brain. In the same way, it helps the lymphatic system pick up toxins to eliminate and boost your immune system. Therefore, you can expect more mental clarity, improved memory, and reduced risk of heart disease.
Reduce Swellings and Pain – Inversion asanas promote lymphatic circulation by using the force of gravity with gentle movement, helping with swelling and pain in the lower limbs.
Boost Energy Levels – You will notice that the concentration and focus required to practice inversion yoga boost your energy levels and mood. You will also have better focus. Inversion poses help increase cell oxygen and nutrient uptake and release endorphins like dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin.
Relive Stress and Anxiety – Inversions can help calm the mind by stretching the muscles and releasing tension from the spine and mind.
Defy the Aging Process – Even though Inversions yoga does not perform miracles, it does improve lymphatic function, helping reduce inflammation, the most significant contributor to signs of aging.
Mastering Inversion Yoga
If you have decided you want to master inversion yoga, here are some essential things to know:
- Before getting the benefits of inversion yoga, ask your doctor because some medical conditions or injuries may not allow it. One example is high blood pressure or eye conditions like glaucoma.
- Always consult your doctor if you have neck, shoulder, head, or spine injuries.
- Start doing Inversions yoga under the guidance of a trained teacher to ensure you have the proper alignments and make the correct modifications based on your individual needs.
- Pregnant people should practice less intense poses as long as they don’t have any pregnancy-related complications.
Going Upside Down: Yoga Inversion Benefits
Inversion poses have many physical and mental benefits, making them important to add to any yoga practice.
Physically, inversions stretch out tight muscles and joints. They also boost blood and lymphatic circulation circulation, helping reduce fatigue, increase energy levels, and improve digestion.
Additionally, inversion poses can help relieve stress and tension by calming the nervous system. Inversions also help you get better rest by promoting relaxation and blood circulation.
Mentally, inversions help your focus and concentration, helping relieve the symptoms of anxiety and depression symptoms. Increased blood flows to the brain when inverted, helping sharpen focus and encouraging mindfulness. It also provides clarity, which helps clear away negative thoughts or worries for improved mental clarity and overall well-being.
6. Enhancing Your Practice with Inversions
Adding inversions to your yoga practice gives you some of the benefits of Inversions yoga. Reversing the body has many benefits. The inversions are fun to master, allowing you to add some playfulness to your practice.
For some, going upside down is quite frightening, making it essential to have the guidance of a teacher to help you gain confidence and build your strength. As you improve, you might even surprise yourself by wanting to add more challenging upsidedown poses to your routine.
Embracing the Upside-Down World of Yoga
Embracing the upside-down world of yoga allows you to reap the benefits of Inversions yoga. Healthline suggests adding these four poses to your yoga routine so that you can start feeling the benefits before moving to more challenging asanas.
Downward-Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
One of the most popular asanas, this pose targets hamstrings, glutes, quadriceps, and upper back muscles.
- Start the asana on the ground on all fours.
- Place your hands on the floor under your shoulders and your knees under your hips.
- Pressing down on your hands, straighten your legs, lifting your pelvis toward the ceiling. Your heels can slightly leave the ground as you hold your body in an upside-down “V” position.
- Keep your knees slightly bent and elongate your spine. Your head must be between your shoulders facing down. You should feel a slight stretch in your hamstrings and upper back.
- Ensure your weight is distributed throughout your body.
Hold for 30–60 seconds.
Legs up the Wall (Viparita Karani)
This gentle asana stretches the legs and helps relieve lower back pain.
- Lie on the floor next to a wall, placing your legs against the wall and ensuring the bottoms of your feet are parallel to the floor.
- Your buttocks must be a few inches from the wall, and your tailbone touches the floor.
- Your legs must gently touch the wall, keeping your knees relaxed while feeling a small stretch.
Hold this position for 5–20 minutes while practicing slow, controlled breaths.
Child’s Pose (Balasana)
Use this low-intensity pose to relax the spine, hips, shoulders, and neck while adding a sense of calmness to your being.
- Start on the floor on all fours.
- Sit your hips back toward your heels, folding your chest over your knees.
- Bring your forehead to the floor.
- Stretch your arms straight forward with your palms facing the floor.
- You should feel a gentle stretch in your back.
Hold this pose for 30–60 seconds.
Forward Fold Pose (Uttanasana)
It is an excellent stretching pose for the spine, hamstrings, and calves.
- Stand, feet hip-width apart and arms by your sides.
- Bring your arms straight over your head.
- Gently swing your arms down, bending at the hips, placing them on the floor in front of your feet. You can use a yoga block if you can’t reach the ground.
- Keep your legs straight, your knees slightly bent, and your hips aligned with your ankles.
- Bring the weight to the balls of your feet by leaning gently forward, engaging your quadriceps to stretch your hamstrings.
With your head hanging, hold the pose for 30 to 60 seconds.
Discovering the Magic of Inversion Yoga
You can add more challenging poses once you have started embracing the upside-down world of yoga by mastering the simpler inversion asanas. However, don’t compare yourself to others in your class. To get the best benefits of inversions, yoga requires internal focus.
Listen to your body and mind so that you avoid overexerting or injuring yourself, and when you are ready, move into challenging poses like the Forearm Balance (Pincha Mayurasana), Crow Pose (Bakasana), Headstand (Salamba Shirshasana), Handstand (Adho Mukha Vrksasana), and Wheel Pose (Chakrasana). Read more about practicing these challenging poses from the Yoga Journal.
Discovering the magic of inversion yoga provides several benefits to your physical and mental well-being. Take on the challenge and add a few of these poses to your routine, and the chances are you will constantly seek an opportunity to turn yourself upside-down during your yoga sessions.