Effects of Inverted Poses on the Body
Inverted poses are some of the healthiest things you can do for your body. They bring health and vitality to the body, while calming and soothing the mind. According to Ayurveda, most of the impurities in our bodies are present in the lower abdominal area. When the feet are lifted above the head, the impurities move toward the Agni (fire) element, located in our digestive organs, for purification. Inversions help to purify the blood, providing a natural means of detoxification. This boosts the body’s immunity, and leaves one feeling rejuvenated.
The circulatory system is comprised of the heart, lungs, and the entire system of vessels that feed oxygen and collect carbon dioxide and other wastes from the cells. Arteries extend intricately from the heart, which pumps freshly oxygenated blood from the lungs outward. Veins return blood to the heart, and, unlike arteries, make up a low-pressure system that depends on muscular movement or gravity to move blood along. One-way valves prevent backwash, and keep fluids moving towards the heart in a system known as venous return. This venous return is encouraged and promoted with inverted poses. With more blood being brought to the heart, the muscles of the heart are stretched and strengthened.
Strain on the heart is reduced, as inversions reverse the pressure differential across the body, and the heart is no longer working against the pull of gravity. Blood can then flood the brain with little work from the heart, lowering the heart rate and producing a tranquilizing effect.
Inversions ensure healthier and more effective lung tissue. When standing or sitting upright, gravity pulls our fluids earthward, and blood saturates the lower lungs more thoroughly. The lower lung tissue is therefore more compressed than the upper lungs. As a result, the air we inhale moves naturally into the open alveoli of the upper lungs. Unless we take a good, deep breath, we do not raise the ration of air to blood in the lower lungs. When we invert, blood saturates the well-ventilated upper lobes of the lungs, thus ensuring more efficient oxygen-to-blood exchange and healthier lung tissue. This helps to uniformly develop the structure of the lungs. Each inhalation can then bring in more oxygen, which then slows down the respiratory rate and conserves more energy.
Venous blood flows to the heart by force of gravity, without any strain, which allows blood to circulate around the neck and chest. As a result, people suffering from breathlessness, palpitation, asthma, bronchitis, and throat ailments get relief. The stimulation of the lung tissue helps to relieve colds, coughs, tonsillitis, and bad breath.
The weight of the abdominal organs on the diaphragm encourages deep breathing, which gently massages the internal organs.
The lymphatic system circulates white blood cells throughout the body, and is responsible for waste removal, fluid balance, and immune system response. It is analogous to a sewage system – transporting stray proteins, waste materials, and extra fluids. Lymph is dependent upon muscular movements and gravity to facilitate its return. Because the lymphatic system is a closed pressure system and has one-way valves that keep the lymph moving towards the heart, when one is inverted, the entire lymphatic system is stimulated, thus strengthening the immune system.
There are several endocrine organs that bathe in blood, absorb the nutrients from the blood, and secret hormones for the proper functioning of a balanced and well-developed body and brain. If the glands fail to function properly, the hormones are not produced as they should be, and the body starts to deteriorate. Shoulder-stand stimulates the thyroid and parathyroid glands, which are located in the neck region, because the firm chin-lock increases their blood supply. Headstand improves the blood circulation in the brain, rejuvenating sluggish cells and stimulating the brain, which is the seat of intelligence. It also stimulates the pituitary and pineal glands, on which the growth, health, and vital strength of a person depends.
Inversions improve digestion and increase gastric fire. By reversing the pull of gravity on the organs, especially the intestines, it helps to cleanse them and overcome problems of the liver, kidneys, stomach, intestines, and reproductive system. The activity of these organs become balanced, not hypo or hyperactive. Inversions enhance the peristaltic contractions and aid in good elimination and relief from constipation. Blood capillaries in the intestinal walls absorb nutrients from food as it passes – inversions increase this blood flow, leading to absorption of more nutrients.
Inversions strengthen the spine, neck, shoulders, and arms. The muscular system of the abdomen and legs are toned. When done properly, headstand helps the spine become properly aligned, improving posture, facilitating good breathing and reducing muscular stress. Shoulder-stand strengthens the upper body, legs, and abdomen, opens the chest, and stretches the neck, shoulders, and upper back muscles.
Inversions remove lactic acid (the acid produced in the muscle when they are used and demanding oxygen) and transport it to the liver for removal.
Inversions increase mental alertness and clarity. Due to the soothing effect of the pose on the nerves, those suffering from irritation, shortness of temper, nervous breakdown, stress, mild depression, and insomnia are relieved. Inversions such as shoulder-stand are very soothing to the nervous system, and therefore good to practice when one is tense, upset, nervous, irritated, or fatigued.
Inversions stimulate the release of neurotransmitters. When inverted, blood circulation decreases, but blood in the head increases. If inversions are held for a longer duration, relaxation occurs, as the head is not activated and thoughts disappear. If inversions are held for a short duration, they tend to be more activating.
Headstand allows a plentiful supply of oxygen-rich blood to reach your head and brain, minimizing fatigue and brain tissue degeneration. The increased blood flow through the brain cells increases thinking power, clarity, memory, concentration, and the sensory faculties.
People suffering from high blood pressure, detached retina, glaucoma, hernias, cardiovascular disease, cervical spondylitis, thrombosis, arteriosclerosis, kidney problems, slipped discs, or neck injuries should avoid certain inverted postures. Women should not perform inversions during menstruation.
Upper Tapovan, Laxman Jhula Road
TRACK US ON MAPS