Gravity does a hell of a job keeping us grounded but it can do a number on our bodies. Defy gravity and reverse the effects of standing, walking and sitting (basically being upright) all day long by spending more time upside down. That doesn’t mean you have to drop down into a headstand, simply propping your legs up against a wall for 10 minutes a day can give your a body healthy, energetic, and cleansing, boost.
Being in an upside down position benefits the cardiovascular, lymphatic, nervous, and endocrine systems. It can ease stress and back pain, improve athletic performance and even refresh the mind. It’s also a great way to get refreshed during a mid-day slump.
Talk to your doctor before going upside down as there are safety concerns to keep in mind. Don't go into an upside down position if you have high blood pressure, heart disease or glaucoma, or you are pregnant.
If you’re planning on nailing an advanced position such as a headstand, learn the fundamentals first. For example, Yoko Yoshikawa, a yoga instructor and contributor for Yoga Journal suggests that you “find the extension of the spine first in downward-facing dog; open the shoulders with a handstand, forearm balance, and side plank pose; and develop balance, clarity, and strength with the standing poses” before moving on to the advanced stuff.
Here are some easy upside down moves:
This popular yoga pose lengthens the spine while strengthening the chest muscles improving lung capacity. Start on all fours, with your knees below your hips and your hands slightly above your shoulders. Raise your knees and lift your heels.
This is a favorite among runners as it drains the legs of fluid that builds up during a run. It’s a great restorative yoga pose so feel free to use a pillow or bolster under your lower back and rest your hips. Lay down on your side with your butt up against the wall and arms to your side. Roll over onto your back and lift your legs straight up in the air and rest them against the wall. Now relax.
The bridge chest-and-shoulder-opening move is fairly easy and improves circulation and digestion, while relieving back pain. Lay down on your back with arms down to the side of you and your knees bent shoulder-width apart with your feet flat on the floor. Slowly lift your hips up while keeping your shoulder blades lengthened into the ground.
Intermediate upside down positions:
Another move that is beginner-friendly, the shoulder stand works the entire body while stimulating the thyroid gland, improving digestion, reliving stress and depression. Here are detailed step-by-step instructions by Gaiamtv.
A bent-knee headstand is a great way to build up your balance – and courage –toward a headstand. Follow these instructions from Fitbie.
Advanced upside down positions:
Reap the benefits of being upside down while doing a handstand. As Nerd Fitness explains, you don't need big muscles to do a handstand; it is a skill that you need to practice every day. Follow these seven steps by Yoga Journal and you’ll be nailing those handstands in no time!
Known as the "king of all asanas," the headstand is obviously an advanced move that requires plenty of upper body and core strength to master. Lululemon has an easy-to-understand breakdown of the headstand pose on its blog.