Inverted yoga poses or yoga asanas reverse the action of gravity on the body. Instead of everything being pulled towards the feet, the orientation shifts towards the head. Similarly, on the emotional and psychic levels, inverted asanas change the normal patterns, throwing new light on old patterns of behavior and being.
The series ‘Inverted Asanas’ is mentioned in the book ‘Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha’ by Swami Satyananda Saraswati under the Intermediate asanas. In this article we will be learning about all the asanas mentioned in the Inverted Asanas, the general benefits and precautions of inverted yoga poses.
Benefits of Inverted Poses
- These practices are refreshing and revitalizing. They improve health, reduce anxiety and stress, and increase self confidence.
- They also increase mental power, concentration and the capacity to sustain large workloads without strain.
- Inverted asanas encourage blood to flow to the brain, nourishing the neurons and flushing out toxins.
- Blood and lymph, accumulated in the lower limbs, pelvis and abdomen, are drained back to the heart, then circulated to the lungs, purified and re-circulated to all parts of the body. This process nourishes the cells of the whole human organism.
- The enriched blood flow also allows the pituitary gland to operate more efficiently, tuning the entire endocrine system. This has a positive effect on the metabolic processes and even on ways of thinking.
- While the body is in an inverted asana, the breath becomes slow and deep, maximizing the exchange of carbon dioxide and oxygen, and generally encouraging correct respiration. In addition, the abdominal organs: the liver, spleen, stomach, kidneys and pancreas, receive a powerful massage, helping them to perform their functions more efficiently.
- Traditionally, inverted asanas are used to sublimate and transform sexual energy into spiritual energy. The aim of the practices, in this context, is to stimulate the chakras, open sushumna nadi and raise the kundalini to bring about psychic awakening. While it is unlikely that kundalini will be raised through practice of these asanas alone, inverted postures undoubtedly improve the quality of meditation and concentration, refining the consciousness and enabling it to enter unexplored levels of the mind.
Precautions while doing Inverted Yoga Poses
- People suffering from heart conditions, high blood pressure or back conditions, especially slipped disc, should not practice these asanas.
- Those with cervical problems should not practice postures where the neck bears weight. Women should not practice inverted postures during pregnancy or menstruation.
- Those with illnesses that make the blood impure should not perform inverted asanas until the blood is purified. People with arteriosclerosis, glaucoma, an active ear infection or any disease of the brain should refrain from inverted postures.
- People recovering from operations, or going through pregnancy, people with inflammatory conditions or who are presently infirm, and the elderly, should carefully note the contra-indications for individual asanas.
- Do not practice near furniture or anything that might impede a free fall to the floor.
- During a backward or forward fall, aim to break the fall with the feet.
- While falling, the body should be completely relaxed, never tense. If any discomfort occurs, discontinue the practice.
- Do not practice inverted asanas until at least three hours after taking food.
- Do not perform inverted asanas immediately after vigorous exercise.
- Always practice these asanas on a folded blanket or yoga mat thick enough to protect the vertebrae of the neck and back of the head.
- Never practise on a soft mattress, spring bed or cushions.
List of all Inverted Yoga Poses
- Bhumi Pada Mastakasana – Half Headstand Pose In Yoga
- Vipareeta Karani Asana – Inverted Pose In Yoga
- Sarvangasana – Shoulder Stand Pose In Yoga
- Moordhasana – Crown-based Pose In Yoga
- Padma Sarvangasana – Shoulder Stand Lotus Pose In Yoga
- Poorva Halasana – Preliminary Plough Pose In Yoga
- Druta Halasana – Dynamic Plough Pose In Yoga
- Ardha Padma Halasana – Half Lotus Plough Pose In Yoga
- Stambhan Asana – Posture Of Retention In Yoga
- Sirshasana – Headstand Pose In Yoga
- Salamba Sirshasana – Supported Headstand Pose In Yoga
- Niralamba Sirshasana – Unsupported Headstand Pose In Yoga
- Oordhwa Padmasana – Headstand Lotus Pose In Yoga
- Kapali Asana – Forehead Supported Pose In Yoga