It is interesting to see that many yoga classes do not include inversions in their class structure. There is only one obvious reason for this lacuna – that is many teachers themselves fear inversions as difficult to teach. However, yoga withoutinversion is like an oxygen mask without, well, oxygen!
An inversion is not contraindicated in many ailments. Even in heart problems, after the body is used to inversions, viparita karani mudra, with props like bolsters you can introduce the practitioner to viparita karani mudra which, when held low, is even called a cardiac pose because it helps to tone and support the heart, by flushing it with blood. In slipped disc and hernia, yes, inversions are contraindicated. But otherwise, in most other ailments, after the acclimatizing phase is over, inversionsmay be slowly introduced. Therefore, it is a matter of concern why many yoga classes skip this important limb of hatha yoga.
Inversions are beautiful practices, and are often referred with fanfare as “death-defying” practices. It means they confer longevity, anti-aging, healing benefits as no other.
The reason inversions are celebrated in this fashion is because the poses invite all muscle groups, including subtle muscle fibers (called faschia) to fight gravity. Gravity ages us simply by dragging us towards the ground. In your youth, the blood flow is thorough and complete flushing the entire organs. But as we enter our twenties, due to gravity and possibly due to the way we work-out and/or sedentary life-styles, the blood starts to favor the bottom of our organs and glands. At the top of these systems, the blood flow and its beneficial effect becomes progressively reduced thanks also due to the heart’s pumping that gets no support from the way we live and is often burdened. In inversions, this pooling of blood towards the bottom of our major systems is reversed. Top aspects of our body/organs/glands which had become sluggish or dead is now forced into waking up and become efficient once more.
The work out does not remain only at the top of our body or extremities. In inversions even our insides are challenged by gravity. This explains why those who have a regular and well-rounded practice of yoga remain mentally active and physically energetic throughout their lives. In hairfall triggered by external factors, inversions is said to reverse it, as well as keep the hair naturally darker. Face is said to become wrinklefree and taut due to increased flow of blood to these parts. Also, because of the continuous increased flow of blood to the major axis of hypothalamus, pineal and pituitary glands in the brain, our other systems (which are managed by these) become healthier too.
Several of the inversions are also involved with the raja yoga /mind control aspect of yoga. Many are also said to power your spiritual growth. To not practice them, unless you have issues we mentioned above, is to deny yourself the complete magic of yoga.
(From an article I wrote for a magazine years ago)