When all else fails, go upside down.
In yoga, an inversion is defined as hips above heart, heart above head. When laying on your back, placing a thick folded blanket under your low back (4 or so inches thick) elevates the hips above the heart and the front of your heart is above the back of your head. This is the most gentle of the inverted positions. Postures like downward dog and forward fold are more intense inversions. Shoulder and head balance are the most intense. There is a yoga prop called the Yoga Lift that allows a full inversion with no weight at all on the head. I use this 2-3 times per day and, since I practice alone, I know that I am safe in this full inversion.
But why go upside down? The full inversions require our muscles to engage in the opposite direction, lifting and holding the lower body up rather than the upper body. This stimulates the vascular system, nervous system and muscle fiber to function differently and all of this challenges the brain and awareness as well. The blood flow to the brain through the upper body, neck and head is obviously more intense and that increase in volume and pressure helps to keep the blood vessels free of plaque. Your heart can rest a bit because gravity does the work and gives your brain a bath. Sensory organs in the head get one also and everything just works better!
Inversions also calm and refresh the adrenal glands and support lowered blood pressure. For those who have naturally low blood pressure, the less extreme inversions are safer and I would suggest holding them for only 5-10 breaths. I also would say to do them 3-4 times a week rather than every day.
I started out by saying “When all else fails…” I invert when I catch myself in circular thinking or when I am just not clear about a decision or what to say or how to say something. Going upside down requires me to focus and to guide my breath. Then it relaxes me and gets blood to the brain so that I think more clearly and am more in touch with my truth, my feelings, myself.
I just like the way the world looks upside down! So does my 18 month old granddaughter. She loves when I turn her upside down. She looks around and laughs because everything looks so funny upside down! She reminds me to open my eyes when I am upside down and see that the world is really pretty silly! So why do I let it make me so serious? Good question.
May you go upside down today! Namaste.