By Shameem Akhtar
The practice of inversions confers longevity, youth, and accelerated spiritual growth, says Shameem Akhtar
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 without inversion 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, you can introduce the practitioner to viparitakarani 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 acclimatising phase is over, inversions may be slowly introduced.
Inversions are beautiful practices, and are often referred to as ‘death-defying’. They confer longevity, anti-aging, and healing benefits. Inversions are celebrated because the poses invite all muscle groups, including subtle muscle fibers (called fascia) to fight gravity. Gravity ages us simply by dragging us towards the ground. In your youth, the blood flow is thorough and complete, flushing all the organs. But as we enter our 20s, due to gravity and possibly due to inadequate work-out, or sedentary lifestyles, the blood starts to favour the bottom of our organs and glands. At the top of these systems, the blood flow and its beneficial effect becomes progressively reduced, because the heart’s pumping gets burdened by the way we live. In inversions, this pooling of blood towards the bottom of our major systems is reversed. Top aspects of our body, organs and glands which had become sluggish or dead are now forced to wake up and become efficient.
This explains why those who have a regular and well-rounded practice of yoga remain mentally active and physically energetic throughout their lives. Hairfall gets reversed by inversions. Face becomes wrinkle-free and taut due to increased flow of blood. Also, because of the continuous and 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 inversions are also involved with the raja yoga/mind control aspect of yoga. Many are also said to power your spiritual growth.
Viparitakarani mudra asana (psychic union lock pose)
Lie on your back. Palms flat beside the body. Inhale. Exhale, hoist hips up and off the ground. After the legs are up in the air, and hips high enough, place your palms lightly at the hips to hold them, shifting the weight to elbows and shoulders. If attempting for first time, hold it briefly. Then progressively increase the duration in the final pose. You can increase it up to two minutes or more. Breathing is normal throughout the practice.
Do not lift the hands till the hips go up. Ensure elbows are not too flared out, which will bring your hips down. Ensure also not to rest the hips heavily on the palms in the final pose, but just rest them lightly.
Anti-aging. Increases life span. Keeps you physically fit, and looking younger at the face. Helps hair growth. Powers the heart and the brain.
Bio: Shameem Akthar has trained as Yoga Acharya with the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centre, Kerala, and is a master-trainer in neuro-linguistic psychology.
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