Enjoy Instant Relaxation by Inverting

Enjoy Instant Relaxation by Inverting

Enjoy instant relaxation by inverting yourself. This is a simple, powerful way to cue your relaxation response so that you can get out of that stressed out state where your body feels like crap. 

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In yoga, an inversion is any pose that gets your heart higher than your head

These not-necessarily-upside down poses are considered to be seriously enlivening. For one thing, you reverse your standard relationship to gravity. Thank about that. Gravity is the primary force on our cells, our heart, our bones, our muscles, our skin. You change the force of gravity on your body a little bit when you walk, and sit, and lie down, but for the most part, its direction is still always downward.

When you invert your bodily position, gravity pulls on at least part of your body in a completely different way. That gives your cells, heart, bones, muscles and skin a totally different challenge. It changes the game, kind of like switching from hearts to spades, or from always pushing to occasionally pulling. 

Give Your Heart A Rest

To invert your body, which I’ll give you a couple of ideas of how to do in just a moment, is very restful to your heart, because it doesn’t have to work as hard to return the blood from your extremities, and to your nervous system. 

If you think of inversions you probably think handstand or headstand, which, it’s true, are inversions, but there are many many other ways to reap the benefit of inversions without doing something that may feel like a gymnastics trick. 

Downward dog is an inversion. So is a standing forward bend where you fold over your straight legs. 

You can also invert while you’re reclining—so you can also be resting while you’re invert, which is a fabulous one-two punch of relaxation and rejuvenation. So if you’ve got anything going on like fatigue, or back funkiness, or trouble sleeping, or anxiety, or you’re healing from anything whether that’s the stomach flu or emotional trauma, lying down while in an inverted position is just a marvelously powerful way to take care of yourself. 

I’m going to give you two choices for how enjoy instant relaxation by inverting yourself: 

  1. Lie down on your living room floor and rest your shins either on your couch, a chair seat, or your coffee table. Bonus points for putting a short stack of magazines or one or two thin books under the back of your pelvis so that your hips are slightly higher than the rest of your upper body.
  2. Lie on your back on the floor with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Press into your feet to lift your hips and then put either a yoga block or a stack of 2 or 3 books under the back of your pelvis. Then let the weight of your pelvis rest on those books and just stay there. It’s a mini bridge pose.

Doing these before bed can help you ‘come down’ from your day. They’re also great to do on those mornings when you wake up and still feel exhausted. I know it’s hard to will yourself off the couch or out of bed. And that’s it’s so so so tempting to think you ‘don’t have time’ and you should just get straight to working or go straight to bed. But you will feel so much better if you take even just 5 minutes to invert yourself. It gives you a chance to settle into your body. It resets you mentally. You might even feel like you’ve got a pleasant little hum going on inside your body. And if you don’t like the position you picked, well, that’s why I gave you two options. Try the other one. I really really really think you’re going to dig it. 

If you try either of these inversions, or any inverted pose, I’d love to see a photo of you doing it! Post a pic to Twitter or Instagram and use the hashtag #betterpersonpod. Bonus points for tagging me, I’m @katewhanley on Twitter and @katehanleyauthor on Instagram. 

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