Benefits of Yoga Inversions

Hello yogis! I hope you’ve been able to incorporate the three aspects from last week’s blog – breathing, focus and alignment – in your yoga practice and in your everyday life. For this week we are diving into learning about the benefits of inversions. If you’ve been considering joining an upcoming headstand or handstand workshop, read on to learn more about inversions! 

Let’s start with defining inversion. What does it even mean? In yoga, inversion refers to poses in which the yogi’s heart is at a higher level than the head. Thus “inverting” your body from its normal upright position. However, not all inversion poses require that one is completely upside down. There are milder poses that you can practice to overcome the fear associated with going upside down, like shoulder stand, child’s pose and down-ward facing dog pose.  

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Now that we have established what inversion is we can explore the benefits of it! Have you ever heard of the expression “turn that frown upside down”? Well, what it basically means is to be happy instead of sad. When doing an inversion pose your blood circulation and your lymphatic drainage improves which helps deliver oxygen and nutrients throughout your body and release a rush of endorphins. This in turn helps the brain to regulate mood swings and reduce anxiety or depression – it’s a natural mood booster! But the benefits don’t stop there!

Enhances muscular strength 

Yoga inversions target specific muscle groups and help to build strength to hold the body in a stretched position which increases muscular strength, flexibility and endurance. And in time improves better limb flexibility and range of motion. 

Improves focus 

When practicing inversions we may face different challenges, such as fear of falling, and we are often forced to tune inwards and become very focused on the pose. But as you begin to feel more comfortable in the pose you will also begin to find a strong sense of calmness. Your overall focus and concentration increases as this pose helps the central nervous system to relax and balances out our fight or flight response and forces you to tune inwards. 

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Boosts immune system

The entire lymphatic system plays a huge part in our physical health. As lymph moves through your body it picks up toxins and waste that your body needs to get rid of and helps maintain fluid balance. When we turn upside down we stimulate our lymphatic system, increasing the flow of white blood cells and lymph throughout the body and strengthening the immune system. And it also may reduce pain and swelling in the lower limbs. 

Increases confidence and patience

Practicing inversions are often something we consider as pretty difficult or advanced. It takes time and practice to perform them properly, but once you’ve mastered the art of getting upside down you will feel more confident and proud. All of your hard work paid off! The confidence, patience and strength that you slowly build will translate into all aspects of your daily life. And you will embrace new challenges and obstacles with a “I can do it” attitude. 

It’s fun!

Yoga does not always have to be serious. Your practice is a wonderful time to invite fun into your yoga mat and life. Getting upside down encourages a sense of childish playfulness in your practice! So smile and open your heart to having fun on your mat! 

Lina Lindahl in handstand

Inversions can bring with them many benefits and are such a fun part of yoga practice. However, it’s always important to honor and listen to your body. Don’t do anything that doesn’t feel good or is painful. It’s also important to keep in mind that inversion yoga involves advanced moves. If you’re not sure or feel uncomfortable doing it by yourself, perform them under the supervision of an expert to avoid any injuries. If you’re interested in trying out, or just want to improve your inversions, Yoga Roots have a few great inversion workshops in November that you can attend! 

Be safe, have fun and treat your body well dear yogis! Until next time. 

Sources:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3193654/ https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3425136/ https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4475706/ https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6691728/ https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4278136/

history of yoga

A newbies journey to yoga

What is vinyasa yoga?

I often thought about how it would feel like mastering the art of yoga. To be able to move from one pose to another with ease and grace and not have my arms and legs trembling with each move. As a person who knows very little about yoga and very much about crossfit, I decided to broaden my knowledge and dive into the “yoga world”, starting with vinyasa yoga. 

One of the first things I discovered on my yoga quest was the many different types of yoga. And as a newbie to Yoga Roots I noticed the many Vinyasa classes on the schedule. So I set out to find out more on what makes this type of yoga so special. Therefore, this week we will dive into Vinyasa yoga, which comes from the Sanskrit root words meaning “to place in a special way”.

It is not a surprise that yoga has many benefits. This bendy ancient practice has health benefits that extend beyond the physical. However, there are many different types of yoga and it can be a little hard to know which style is best suitable for your needs and wants. Vinyasa is an approach to yoga in which you move from one pose directly into the next with the movement of your breath. The classes are often rhythmic, with a focus on transitions and movements, and connecting the body movements with the rhythm of the breath.

The history of Vinyasa yoga

Shaiva ascetics performing tapas via British Museum Source: British Museum.
Shaiva ascetics performing tapas via British Museum

Vinyasa yoga is a modern style of yoga, born out of the Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga tradition. The Ashtanga school was developed by a yogi named Sri Krishnamacharya. Krishnamacharya taught that the movements between each asana should be considered just as important as the postures themselves. His idea behind this was to deepen concentration and body consciousness throughout the entire practice. Rather than focusing on “getting into the posture” and then breathing, the aim is to keep the deep breathing and body consciousness consistent throughout all movements during the practice.

The benefits

So what are the benefits of Vinyasa yoga? For starters, it improves your energy levels while simultaneously promoting relaxation and lowering stress levels. It also offers several other benefits, including:

  • Endurance and strength training. Because the challenging poses are done in quick succession, Vinyasa yoga helps build muscle strength while improving your fitness.
  • Stability and balance. While improved balance is a benefit of yoga in general, a 2015 study in the journal PLoS One found that for people with low vision, a course of Ashtanga-based yoga significantly improved their sense of balance and reduced their fall risk.
  • Cardio workout. According to a 2013 study in the Journal of Yoga & Physical Therapy, the fast-paced movements and physical challenge of Vinyasa yoga make it an ideal light-intensity cardiovascular workout. 
  • Lower stress, less anxiety. In a 2012 study of women going through cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) to quit smoking, researchers found that practicing Vinyasa yoga helped lower stress and anxiety levels. It also helped the participants quit smoking.

What do you love about Vinyasa?

Lina W. Walldén is one of the Vinyasa teachers at Yoga Roots. So, I sat down with her to get to the “root” of what makes Vinyasa yoga so special to her. Lina discovered yoga when she was 13 years old, thanks to her mother. Since then she has practiced many different types of yoga, but the Vinyasa is what she really is passionate about. In 2020 she decided to take her passion for yoga to the next step and began her Vinyasa teachers training.

Lina W. Walldén enjoying the nature
Lina W. Walldén enjoying the nature

“My favourite thing about Vinyasa yoga is the feeling of being totally connected to your body…

– Lina W. Walldén

When asked what she loves about Vinyasa, Lina replied:

“My favourite thing about Vinyasa yoga is the feeling of being totally connected to your body and not being able to think about anything else at that moment. I also love the playfulness and the creativity in the sequencing, and the fact that a Vinyasa class gives a good workout for both body and mind. This is what I aim to pass on in my teaching, combined with a feeling of calmness and stability.”

Practice with Lina weekly at Yoga Roots on Tuesdays and Sundays!

Who am I?

My name is Shirin and I’m a happy and energetic student who’s studying “communication and social media” at Medieinstitutet. I’m originally from Stockholm but have lived in Malmö for about 5 years now and I have no plans on leaving this wonderful city, which I call home. As part of my education program each semester has an internship period which stretches for 10 weeks. This semester I was lucky enough to get an internship at Yoga Roots. I knew immediately that this internship would be packed with fun and amazing experiences as I read the first sentence of Bethany’s reply to my internship request. And sure enough, it’s already week 4 and I’ve had a blast! 

So yogis, I really hope you enjoyed this week’s reading about Vinyasa yoga, Lina’s story and also appreciate getting to know a bit about me. Each week I will touch upon a yoga related subject and next week the blog is about “the 3 most important aspects of yoga”, which you don’t want to miss!

Shirin Bakhti
Me being happy, as usual 🙂