Handstands in yoga are just one of many inversion poses. What’s an inversion? An inversion is any time your head is below your heart. There are many poses this happens in yoga such as a wide leg forward fold, shoulder stand, downward facing dog, headstand and so forth..
We teach inversions for a number of reasons both physical and mental/emotional. In yoga we are always offered the opportunity to shake things up and break up all the habitual patterns of life. Inversions are great for getting out of our ruts because being upside down contradicts our physical nature. You can imagine the emotions this can elicit before we invert, during and inversion and afterward. When a teacher suggests going upside down we might feel fearful, anxious, excited, rejection, you name it. Then once we get into an inversion whether it be wheel pose or headstand we not only feel the amazing physical benefits but then we are rushed with new emotions… perhaps like you overcame a fear, maybe bravery, energized, powerful, confident, or maybe other feelings like humble because there is so much to appreciate and learn etc.
Not to mention the physical benefits, here’s a general list:
Inversions reverse the blood flow in the body and improve circulation:
Use gravity to provide the brain with more oxygen and blood thus increasing mental functioning, and improving concentration, memory, and processing abilities.
Increase immunity and prevent illness:
The lymphatic system is a key player in keeping the body healthy. As lymph moves through the body it picks up toxins and bacteria to be eliminated by the lymph nodes. Because lymph moves as a result of muscle contractions and gravity, getting upside down allows lymph to more easily travel into the respiratory system where much of the toxins enter the body.
Inversions such as handstand, headstand, and forearm balance get more blood moving to the brain, which results not only in physical invigoration but mental revitalization as well.
While the heating inversions (handstand & headstand) energize, inversions of the cooling type (shoulder stand & legs up the wall) work to calm the nervous system, thereby activating the parasympathetic nervous system and producing feelings of balance and calm.
Improves core, shoulders and arm strength
And one of the BEST reasons… Because they are FUN! It keeps us youthful, playful and light hearted!