Yoga enthusiasts tout health benefits of inversions
Published Tuesday, July 23, 2013 1:16PM ADT
Last Updated Wednesday, July 24, 2013 10:00AM ADT
The benefits of yoga are no secret, but it seems turning your practice on its head can be even better for your health.
Halifax yoga instructor Taylor MacGillivary loves being upside down. He says he started trying the challenging inversion positions as a fun way to fuel his competitive spirit.
“Doing something that I couldn’t do was exhilarating,” says MacGillivary. “You want to be able to conquer that next step. So, that’s how it began, I think that’s how it begins for a lot of people.”
An upside-down posture, or inversion, is any pose where your head is below your heart.
The moves can be as intense as a headstand or as subtle as a simple forward bend. Downward dog is the most common inversion practiced in almost any style of yoga.
“It’s actually a pose that a lot of people don’t see as an inversion or don’t know that it’s an inversion, but again, your head is below your heart, so you’re getting some of the benefits.”
Yoga teacher Maxine Jeffrey says the benefits are plentiful.
“Parts of your organs that don’t normally get adequate blood supply suddenly get new blood supply and they get flushed and cleansed,” says Jeffrey.
Holding an inversion for three minutes will allow for a full cycle of circulation. However, any length of time will help get fluids moving.
“Cerebral spine fluid can travel to your brain with more ease and the discs in your spine get rehydrated so you can stay taller into your older years,” says Jeffrey.
Inversions can also benefit your mental well-being. Upside down poses allow an increase of blood flow to the brain.
“When you get an influx of fresh oxygen, that also promotes the secretion of melatonin and serotonin,” says MacGillivary.
The result is a feeling of calmness, relaxation and overall happiness, something MacGillivary now craves over the sense of challenge he once felt.
“Now, it’s all about healing and being calm and trying to relax and slow down,” says MacGillivary .
As for Jeffrey, she loves inversion so much that she has replaced a common morning ritual with a routine of her own.
“I don’t drink coffee. I just jump up into an arm balance or headstand to give me some energy.”