Although yoga inversions have many health benefits, they are different from using an inversion table. Since postures typically are performed while the person is touching the ground with hands, feet or both, these exercises are not necessarily meant for stretching out the spine and discs.
That said, inversion yoga poses are great for strengthening both the core and back as well as increasing blood flow to the head and relieving stress. Some people even believe that it can aid with digestion and help flush the adrenal glands for improved function. Certified yoga instructors can help beginners learn proper movements and feel more comfortable being upside down at the same time.
Different Types of Inverted Movements for Beginners:
In addition to the well-known headstand and handstand positions, there is also the plow pose and shoulder stand. These movements can sometimes be easier for beginners to start with if they are not yet comfortable being fully inverted in a handstand.
Both the plow and the shoulder stand start with the person laying on his or her back. The person then progresses to moving the knees into the chest. For a should stand, the person would then straighten the legs and feet would then be elevated into the air vertically.
In the plow pose, the person would similarly straighten the legs – but instead of raising them toward the ceiling, they will horizontally to touch the floor in front of the head. This movement can actually provide a nice stretch for the spine, since there is no additional vertical pressure put on the discs during the exercise. See more exercises for relieving back pain.
Downward Dog or Dolphin Pose are good “lead-in” exercises for people who have not yet tried handstands. You can become more comfortable being upside down in an inverted position without having to take your feet off the ground. It’s a more stable posture and can also provide a nice stretch.
Some runners find that they start experiencing lower back pain due to improper running form or the repetitive pounding ion the pavement. Movements such as these can sometimes provide significant relief, and you don’t even need to be fully inverted.
What to Watch Out For:
Just like using an inversion table, not everyone should be doing inverted poses. For example, if you have high blood pressure, glaucoma, neck injuries, a detached retina, a heart condition or other health issues, it’s beast to avoid these movements altogether. Talk with your doctor first.
Putting the Movements into Practice…
Check out this video from Yoga Journal which explains different inverted movements and to how to progress to full inverted handstand against the wall. The instructor also walks you through a basic warm-up and hip opening movements, which are important for maintaining flexibility in the back, preventing potential posture problems and back pain.
Inversion Slings and How to Use Them
A tool sometimes used in yoga practice is what’s called an inversion or yoga sling. These provide more of the benefits that users would received from an inversion table, yet they offer people great flexibility in their movements.
If your body is not stiff and you are not experiencing back pain, these yoga accessories can be a wonderful way to expand your practice and gain additional stretch and increase flexibility while not being constrained to the ground. In addition, it is also useful in building core and back strength.
An inversion sling can be used indoors or outdoors, in both strength-building routines or relaxation sessions. In fact, there is no reason you could not incorporate a meditation practice while hanging upside down.
Here is a short video explaining how to use an inversion sling:
So, whether you decide to incorporate more inversion postures into your vinyasa or hatha yoga routines or you use specific for back and core strengthening, you can see that there are lots of options and multiple benefits. In fact, MindBodyGreen.com has 10 reasons why you should do a headstand everyday. Another insightful read is from Jon Burras, who is a wellness and yoga consultant, Eight Myths of Inversions.