As you will know if you follow this blog, I recently took up yoga. (Please click on this link if you would like to check out my post: A Yoga Beginning). I love the calm feelings yoga brings, the relaxation of my mind and body and the certainty that it is making my core stronger by the day. I also love the challenge of yoga, and was keen to work on a few of the more ambitious poses, including a headstand. However, having not done a headstand since I was about 11, this was quite a big ask.
Google any yoga website and you will see stunning yogis standing on their head or hands, looking beautifully balanced and serene. ‘I can do that!’ I thought. But, when I first tried to do a headstand, I realised that it is actually quite difficult to get your feet over your head. Still, I was determined to give it a go. There was a certain amount of squawking and shrieking involved, and Andy had to help me balance, but once in position, I loved it… and I wanted to do it again, but as a new yogi, I could only manage it when Andy was around.
Not very happy with this, I did a little research and discovered the Feet Up Trainer , a wonderful little piece of kit! It allows me to get upside down without help from anyone else, whilst ensuring I am not putting pressure on my back or neck. And getting into position is so easy!
Now I can be upside down whenever I feel like it! Note, I am still very new to all this, so I have the Trainer next to the wall in case I lose my balance, but I find I rarely need it. The Feet Up comes with an informative poster and there are any number of YouTube videos giving advice and instruction regarding its use.
So why does it feel so wonderful to be upside down? Yes, partly it’s the thrill of achieving something like this, but more than that, there are many health positives that occur when we regularly stand on our heads.
Firstly, its anti ageing, (never a bad thing!) in that it’s pulling the skin of the face in the opposite direction to usual, basically giving a mini face lift! It also promotes the flush of nutrients and oxygen to the face, giving a lovely healthy glow.
It is also great for the veins in the legs, because any fluid that has settled in the feet drains away, thus reducing the possibility of future varicose veins.
Being upside down (or ‘inverted’) improves circulation and promotes heart health. The heart is a pump, releasing oxygenated blood to the body and bringing back de-oxygenated blood to be recycled. But the heart is continually under stress, having to work against gravity. When upside down, the blood rushes towards the heart, and the upper body, rejuvenating circulation and giving the heart a well earned rest.
Being upside down will also strengthen the immune system. Immunity is regulated through the lymphatic system and central thymus gland. We have lymph nodes scattered through our bodies which help to locate and rid the body of harmful bacteria. The lymph travels through the body and is recycled through the thymus gland, the main lymphatic gland in the chest. The lymph moves by small muscle contractions and is also influenced by gravity. As with the blood circulatory system, being upside down changes the pull of gravity and helps to refresh the system.
Being upside down also strengthens the core. Because we are trying to balance in a new way, we use different muscles. Many of these muscles are located in the core area. The core muscles provide stability to all movements, and they are not just located in the tummy area, as is often thought. The core muscles are all the muscles that are attached to the spine. When they are strong, they provide stability to the whole shoulder, hip and trunk area.
Physical health aside, the most wonderful thing for me is the absolutely amazing sense of happiness that being upside down gives me. Getting my heart above my head not only physically changes my perspective, but it seems to have a marked effect on my emotions. Stress and anxiety seem to go out of the window! And it is not just me; many people report feeling happier, and overall “lighter” and “uplifted” after practicing. These positive effects can provide an alternative way to counteract mental health problems, such as anxiety, depression and Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
It works because the increase of blood circulation throughout the body during an inversion also increases the circulation of endorphins. When the circulation of endorphins is increased, it is easier for the brain to manage mood and hormone levels, making the symptoms of anxiety or depression decrease. By being upside down for just a few minutes a day, we can help increase our endorphin circulation regularly.
We all experience stress, worry and anxieties at some level. Life is challenging, now more than ever listening to the news, when it seems we have more to worry about than usual. Looking after our bodies and our minds and keeping a sense of perspective is key. I can honestly say that since I have started ‘inverting’, I have noticed a stronger ability in myself to remain positive and light hearted throughout the day. And I don’t think that that can ever be a bad thing.❤️
*Getting upside-down may not be suitable for everyone. High blood pressure, some heart conditions, neck injuries, recent stroke, detached retina, glaucoma and epilepsy are issues that should be discussed with a GP before trying these exercises. As always, discuss with your doctor before embarking on any new exercise regime.
Disclaimer: Somekindof50 has no links or affiliation with the Feet Up Trainer Company and has not received any fees/discounts in return for writing this post.