Our last two posts disabuse you of the false belief that inversions in your yoga practice will help combat the “negative” effects of gravity. There may be some people wanting to scream at us for overlooking the positive reasons for being upside down. One potentially positive idea that comes to mind is the importance of tractioning, a practice which can relieve pressure on the spine. (Note: this doesn’t have to be done while upside down, but some people do prefer tractioning to be done while upending their usual relationship to gravity.) Sure, yes, being upside down can feel good! But any effect it has on the spine will be temporary, considering we are going to be spending the majority of our time in gravity.
Here are 3 GOOD reasons for going upside down:
- It feels good to you! — Performing movements/asana that feels good, fun, relaxing or all around positive is a good enough reason to do it.
- Get to know yourself — Going upside down can teach you about your relationship to your body. Can you stay aware of your position in space? Do you feel strong or weak? Can you choose from where to initiate a fine movement while holding your balance upside down? See how it goes, and then connect to your physical body in a different way.
- Stress Test — Being upside down can be scary. But sometimes confronting fear head on can be a healthy move. See if you can remain calm while changing your orientation to the world.
So is gravity really all that bad? No. Other than the fact that it keeps us securely grounded to the Earth, we each have the opportunity to develop a relationship with gravity that is either comfortable and functional, or tolerate one that is uncomfortable and dysfunctional. You have a choice. Learn to move in space with gravity as an oppressor or as a supportive force. It can happen. Sounds a little nuts, but you have to experience that to believe it. Remember, when you hear that certain poses reverse gravity and are, therefore, “anti-aging” you should question that. By the way, gravity is not the sole factor behind aging, neither Kim nor I panic about being upside down in order to ensure that we put our organs back in the right place because gravity drags them down (did you miss that claim in the last post?!). We keep healthy movement practices that ensure our muscles, bones, organs, and connective tissues can support themselves despite the efforts of normal everyday life.
As long as you have the knowledge, physical ability and clear intention to sustain an inversion practice, go for it!