There are so many fitness challenges out there that focus on how the activity will make you look, when the focus should be on how it makes you feel. As yogis, we practice Patanjali’s niyama, Svadhyaya: Self-Study. Take the next 10 days to incorporate 10 minutes of inverting into each day and notice how you feel. Observe the changes within your body, but also in your mind.
In yoga, an inversion is defined as any pose that takes the heart above the head. Down dog can be your pose of choice or you can spice it up a bit and try handstands, headstands, forearm balance, shoulderstand, and plow pose. There are plenty of variations, if you want to try something different every day! Try to hold the pose for as long as you can. If you don’t make 10 minutes, do the pose or another inversion throughout the day until all your time adds up to 10 minutes!
Here are 10 amazing reasons to turn your day upside down!
1. Overcome Fears! Try a pose you have never done before or try to hold it longer than usual. Notice if you typically come out of a pose before you actually need to do.
**2. Improve Blood flow. ** When upside down, your body is working with gravity rather than against it easing the circulation process.
3. Reduce Tension. Turn your stretch upside down and relax the muscles throughout the body. Physiotherapist LJ Nose found that EMG activity (a measure of muscle tension) declined over 35% within 10 seconds of inverting.
4. Reduce Muscle Aches. Since the lymphatic system cannot move on its own, turning the body upside down helps rid the body of waste, including lactic acid and other fluids that build up within the muscles.
5. Get Focused. The brain consumes 25% of the body’s oxygen intake. When inverting, oxygen flow increases to the brain.
6. Ease Back Pain. Inversions elongate the spine by increasing the space between the vertebrae, relieving the pressure on discs, ligaments and nerve roots.
7. Strengthen Your Core. When moving in and out of a non-supported inversion, the core is required to help align the body. Make sure to continue activating your core while inverting to maintain proper alignment.
8. Improve Digestion. Inversions provide great relief for constipation by assisting stool movement from the ileocecal valve to the ascending colon. When standing upright, gravity makes it harder for movement within the intestines.
9. Fight Insomnia. Supported inversions are great options to do before bed since they reduce muscle tension. Try a supported shoulderstand and let the calm settle in.
10. Have Fun! Get creative with the challenge and bust out a handstand at a park or while with family or friends. Don’t restrict your inversions to your daily practice. Flip the day upside down and watch your childlike instincts emerge.