Relieve back pain with Inversion Poses
Inversion in Yoga means the heart is placed higher than the head. An other common point to all inversion poses is your head being aligned with your spine, which makes inversions ideal yoga poses for back pain. With many variations to each pose, inversions are perfectly accessible to yoga beginners.
You can come into inversion from standing position, by forward bending, your chest reaching towards the floor. Or you are with feet and hands pushing into the floor and lift your buttocks pointing towards the ceiling, called Downward Facing Dog.
Another way to find inversion position is laying on your back with feet on floor close to buttocks. From here you lift your hips into a half shoulder stand, called Bridge. Alternatively you lift your hips and legs, stretch your legs towards the ceiling and come to shoulder stand, called Candle. Attention: your neck is stressed in this pose, therefore go slowly, use variations with bent knees, support your lower back with your hands, and never turn your head left or right!
When should you not do inversions?
Risks of yoga inversions can be, depending on the pose, loss of balance and related accidents. Besides this, it is important being aware that going upside down initially increases the blood pressure, before lowering it later on. That’s why yoga inversions should not be practiced in case of high blood pressure or other severe heart condition. Women should avoid the practice of inversions like handstand during first 3 days of menstruation and if they’re pregnant. And as said before, in shoulder stand always keep your head aligned with your spine to avoid neck injuries (don’t watch the teacher or screen on your side, just listen).
For yoga inversions like headstand or candle pose, the core muscles are engaged to hold the pose and you thus first need building strength. So if you just start a regular training including your muscles, you’re building a very good basis for practice of advanced yoga inversions within a couple of months.
What are the benefits of Inversions in Yoga?
The benefits of poses vary depending on the inversions’ characteristics. Two main aspects are common to all yoga inversions:
Inversion of blood circulation – exhilarating and rejuvenating
Blood first flushes to head and neck and when you come back into your normal position, it recirculates back with fresh supply. This not only helps to relax and release tension from head and neck, but also the brain finds itself toned and enhanced and you feel clear and fresh.
After the inversion, an elevating effect on your mood is revealing, kind of exhilaration combined with light dizziness.
In every inversion with the legs placed higher than the heart, the venous return from lower body and the lymph drainage is improved. Therefore persons standing on their feet all day and those suffering from varicose veins will feel relief as stagnant blood drains from the lower extremities. Ladies, practicing Candle helps to keep legs smooth and healthy, yes!
Inversion of skeletal system – relaxing and relieving
The second aspect lies in the change of bodily gravity for spine, limbs and organs. No pressure on the lower back, hips and legs anymore, the diaphragm finds itself upside-down and the abdominal organs also move differently, which leads to relief for indigestion, constipation and stomach troubles, a natural deep breath is installed and lungs are highly ventilated.
The heart is higher than the head:
You feel some of the effects immediately, as you go into the inversion pose, relax and tune into observing your body and your breath. Others manifest when you come out of the pose exhilarated!
Here are two easy yoga inversions you can practice in your living room to restore from an exhausting day and get your legs ready for the next spring!
Legs up the Wall (Viparita Karani)
The wall is a great inversion support for the legs and in return many parts of the body may relax completely.
- Place a bolster or hard pillow against a wall.
- Sit sideways against the wall on this support. With one smooth movement, swing your legs up onto the wall and place your shoulders and head resting on the floor.
- Bend your knees, press your feet into the wall and lift your sacrum off the support a few centimeters to find the right posture, with your buttocks close to the wall or a few centimeters away. Then open your arms out to your sides, palms up.
- Bend the knees slightly, if it feels better. If you feel pain in your back or hamstrings, place your support further away from the wall.
Stay somewhere between 3 and 10 minutes.
When to place the legs up the wall?
Practicing yoga inversion gives relief to tired legs, hips and mind, it is thus recommended setting this posture
- near the end of the yoga practice or
- after running or
- after a long day standing on your legs or
- before sleeping
Legs up the Wall Benefits
- Lower Back gets relaxation as it experiences no pressure in this inversion pose. The stiffness around the muscles near the sacrum is reduced and mild backache relieved.
- Neck and Shoulders get relaxation as there is no pressure on the shoulders or the neck, and ample space for right breathing is created.
- Tired or cramped legs and feet get relief and Varicose veins get prevented
- Any strain due to sciatic nerve is removed.
- Menstrual cramps and disorders or premenstrual symptoms are alleviated. Practice is recommended any time except during the 3 first days of menstruation.
- Nervous system is soothed thanks to the supply of blood. This further calms the mind if the focus goes towards breathing deep while in this pose.
- Digestion is improved, diarrhea and nausea relieved thanks to the fresh blood arriving to the abdomen.
Legs on Chair (Savasana Variation)
- Lie on your back with hips close to a chair and rest your calves on the chair.
- Feel the whole back on the floor, with neutral spine (slight lordosis) or place a bolster or hard pillow under your hips.
- Arms along your body with palms facing upwards.
- Close your eyes. Stay 3 to 10 minutes.
Legs on Chair Benefits
As the legs are placed on the chair and all the blood flows towards thighs and hips, calves and ankles get less blood. Once you release the legs and take them back down again, there is a flush of blood towards calves, ankles, feet, and also knees which keeps the muscles around active and fresh and improves healing in this area.
- Settle tired legs, also of runners and other athletes
- Improve the healing of injured feet or ankles like Achilles tendons
- Reduce the symptoms of Restless Leg Syndrome
- Body and mind are gently relaxed
- Back gets tonified
Inversion poses reverse gravity on blood circulation and skeletal system. Most inversions are yoga poses recommended for back pain, relaxing the abdominal belt, strengthening the heart, and helping to find a resistant nervous system, reviving the brain and providing good mood!
To avoid injuries of the neck area, be careful with inversions where you place your body weight on your shoulders, follow instructions or take advice with an experienced yoga teacher. Other yoga inversions like Legs up the wall or on a chair present fewer risks, however always do them mindfully, tuning in and listening to your body. Your pose is perfect if the effort to perform it is effortless, and you feel good.
Inversion poses are part of the program Yoga for your Back. For taking action and practising 30 minutes twice a week, have a look at the upcoming program. Try with a drop-in or free class and then start with a 4-week program, you’ll feel the change!