2013 Wellness Challenge Week 23: Inversions

When I was a kid it was fun. We had handstand contests in the front yard to see who could stay up the longest – the winner normally got to 10 seconds or so. We flipped and cartwheeled and hung from the monkey bars. It was all fun and games.

Today, the fear of falling over keeps me from getting up in the first place.

Going upside down is scary. But it’s also good for you. They wouldn’t have invented inversion tables if there were no health benefits. Ok, they might have, because they’re also super fun, but there are benefits to inverting!

Some of them relate to health, but just as many of the benefits relate to your mental and emotional fear blockages that hold you back.

The health benefits of inverting

  • Increase circulation
  • Increase oxygen to the brain
  • Relieve back pain
  • Experience a total body stretch
  • Increase strength

The mental/emotional benefits of inverting

  • Overcome deep-rooted fears
  • Experience joy, thrill and a healthy element of surprise
  • Increase self-confidence
  • Increase energy
  • Get a different perspective on tough issues
  • Increase concentration and focus

How to go upside down

There are several ways that you can accomplish this week’s Wellness Challenge ranging in varying degree of difficulty.

The following yoga poses all require equal parts strength, balance, willpower, confidence and an element of letting go. All are tons of fun. If you don’t get them on the first go, fret not. These are HARD. I highly suggest you work with a yoga instructor to master the elements of these poses before trying these on your own.

  • Handstand

handstand

  • Supported handstand on a wall

    yoga handstand on a wall

    Image credit: Anomalily

  • Traditional Headstand
Image credit: Shar Ka

Image credit: Shar Ka

  • Tripod Headstand
Image credit: christopher.berry

Image credit: christopher.berry

  • Forearm stand
Image Credit: Yoga<3Love

Image Credit: Yoga<3Love

For those of you who are looking for a little more relaxation and less thrill, the following yoga poses are also considered inversions and require less overall strength and much more relaxation.

  • Downward Facing Dog
  • Legs Up the Wall
  • Plow Pose
  • Bridge
  • Wheel

If you haven’t downloaded my free e-book The Unconventional Beginner’s Guide to Yoga, I break down many of these yoga poses with pictures in the book. Get it here.

Remember, you don’t need to be spending 30 minutes every day inverting. Just trying to kick up into Handstand three times counts. Plus, always remember that Downward Facing Dog is an inversion too!

And finally, there are other ways to achieve inverting other than yoga. Consider these awesome, playful alternatives:

  • Inversion table
  • Hang upside down on the monkey bars
  • Try aerial yoga (okay that’s still yoga…)
  • Hang off the couch and watch TV upside down
  • Drape yourself over an exercise/balance ball

When not to go upside down

If you are pregnant, have high blood pressure, glaucoma, heart or circulatory issues or weak bones, it’s not suggested that you hang upside down for too long. I don’t want  you to get hurt.

There is also a long, complex debate about inverting while menstruating. That whole conversation is really for another blog post entirely, but the gist of it suggests that it’s not a good idea to hang out upside down for longer that 30 seconds in the first three days of your moon cycle.

It’s also a very personal thing, so the best advice I can give you is to listen to your own body. Most of the time we don’t have the energy to go upside down during our cycles, so if you’re not feeling it, don’t do it.

Have you got your #FunQuotient in today?

I’m starting a new Twitter hashtag and the Inversion Week of the Wellness Challenge is the perfect way to kick it off! I want to make sure that you are meeting your #FunQuotient every day, so tag it on Twitter and let me know what you’re up to. Yoga Handstands on the beach, bike rides, pool parties, camping trips, or dance outings. Whatever is fun to you, make sure you get your daily dose! Fun keeps you well 🙂

What scares you the most about going upside down? Let me know in the comments below. 

Image credit: W A Y W A R D W A N D E R E R