One of my New Year’s resolutions is to make some time for my yoga practice. When I am consistent with my practice, I not only feel better but, I think better! There are two inversion poses that I routinely do after a long day of chasing children or working. An inversion is most generally categorized as any asana in which the head is below the heart. They are: the wide-stance forward bend (Prasarita Padottanasana) and leg extension up the wall (Viparita Karani).
We all know that gravity has a significant effect on the physiological processes of the human body. Gravity slowly but surely will weigh you down. We not only see the effects but feel the effects. As years pass, subcutaneous fat sags and varicose veins and hemorrhoids erupt because blood pumping has to fight gravity.
There are four major systems in the body that the practice of inversions is said to positively influence: cardiovascular (heart health), lymphatic (immunity support), nervous (message center) and endocrine (hormone regulation). When you are upside down, blood flow to the heart occurs more easily thereby giving your heart a break. The receptors in the brain sense this change thereby lowering blood pressure and pulse. The lymphatic system benefits by helping ease circulation, allowing more efficient waste removal, fluid balance and immune system support. As lymph moves through the body it picks up toxins to be eliminated. Lymph moves as a result of muscle contractions and gravity, so when upside down, lymph moves more easily through our system. When inverted, blood flow increases the freshly oxygenated blood to the brain, which allows it to work more efficiently. Blood also flushes the adrenal glands, which stimulate the release of endorphins that allow you to immediately feel uplifted and can even counter act depression.
In the New Year I encourage you to defy gravity. Inversion poses are not for everyone and should be done with caution. However, the two poses that I mention are simple and do not take much time. My co-workers have always been a little caught off guard when they walk in to the office and find me doing a pose! All you need is a little space, so give it a try and start experiencing its many health benefits!
Renee Alwan Percell, MMS, PA-C