While inversions in yoga get a lot of attention, partly due to how much practitioners stand out when performing them, their use and benefits are not always appreciated. There are 3 benefits of inversions that most yoga students overlook: proprioception, breathing and digestion.
When inverted, coordination is often out of the window. For most people it takes time and practice to understand where their body is in space while upside down. In the process of improving our practice, we have to build new neuro-connections, similar to when we learned how to walk, when toddlers.
Being able to coordinate yourself upside down is not a small task but the benefits are huge. Similar with bilinguals having reduced chances of developing Alzheimer’s, and other aging-related neurological diseases, in my opinion, so do those that invert.
The diaphragm is fighting gravity
While holding a headstand or a handstand we still need to breathe. While this is not much of a priority initially when the holding time increases to 10+ seconds some form of breathing is useful. The diaphragm thought that facilitates breathing, has to move now away from the floor. The inverted movement of the diaphragm demands slower – deeper breathing.
You may have noticed that when inverted if your breath is erratic, it doesn’t take long to lose balance. On the other hand controlled, rhythmic breathing can help us keep:
• track of time
• the nervous system calm
• our midsection stable
While most asana practices will improve your breathing, inversions will definitely upgrade respiratory function.
It takes guts
The midsection area of the body is actively involved in keeping us stable, upside down. The Abdominal Drawing In Manoeuvre (ADIM) is in most cases the most useful ab recruitment technique. This action promotes peristalsis in the abdominal muscles and thus digestive health. For this reason, I suggest inversions for those that want to improve their digestive function!
Training your body to maintain your navel in when exercising, will help you keep a slimmer waist as well.
Inversions is a key component of an asana practice. The more you practice them the more you will improve your alignment and understanding of poses practiced upright. At the same time for the reasons mentioned above inversions will help you get smarter, calmer and slimmer.