Almost every day I spend about six to eight hours in front of a computer. Often, if I’ve been sitting too long and not being mindful, my back starts to slouch over like I’m a turtle with a heavy shell behind my back. I start to feel sluggish and sometimes my creativity and focus come to a halt.
When this happens, I know it’s time to take a break! Instead of just stretching, getting up to walk around, and grabbing a nourishing beverage, lately I’ve been really into turning my world upside down and doing a headstand.
A headstand is by no means an easy posture to learn. And as I write this, I’m still in the process of mastering it. I still need to do it against a wall to give me the comfort I need. However, since getting over my fear of this inverted pose, I’ve fallen in love with it, and think it’s a great alternative activity to consider incorporating into your break routine because of the following perks.
1. Stimulates various body systems, improving your overall health
We spend most of our time upright. And studies have shown there are tremendous health benefits when you invert your body, redirecting the blood flow to your brain. Inversion helps with your lymphatic, nervous and circulation system. It gives your heart a break from having to constantly pump the blood upward, while it stimulates your lymphatic system to drain and remove waste from your body. This helps your body dump out trapped debris and clean your internal organs. In addition, it can also improve your digestion and boost your metabolism.
2. Gives you a new perspective
…Literally. When you are up-side down, you see the world or the room you are in from a different perspective. Mentally, it’s a reminder that there’s always more than one way to look at things in life. New perspectives and ideas often pop into my head when I’m balancing myself upside down, as I feel like a kid again hanging on the monkey bars.
3. Reduces Stress and improves focus.
When you are maintaining the posture, your focus is turned inwards as you focus on trying to balance on your head, while maintaining it with your core, partnering it with your breath to help you stand on your head. In doing so, you are naturally resetting your brain and dumping unresourceful thoughts out of your mind. This helps you to refocus and increase your brain power and efficiency while improving your clarity and balance. But don’t just take it from me: composer Stravinsky himself used to do headstands to overcome creative blocks.
4. Improves your psychological well-being
By standing on your head, you are allowing the fresh blood flow stimulate your pituitary gland (the master chamber that regulates all hormones). One of its functions is to release hormones that activate happiness and our relaxation response that nurtures our well-being. As a result, we tend to feel lighter and happier after a headstand. Not only that, when you work towards conquering your fear of inversion and the fear of possibility of hurting yourself, you start to build confidence.
5. Natural Beauty Perks
By reversing the flow of gravity, some say you are giving yourself a natural ‘face lift’ as you let the fresh blood, oxygen and nutrients flow to the face and your scalp. The result you get is a natural rosy glow. In addition, some say you may even be able to reverse grey hair. I’m not sure about the latter yet but I can certainly attest that you do get a natural glow after a headstand.
6. Improves your physical strength and posture
A headstand utilizes so much of your core power, as you move the weight into your shoulders, arms and core. When it’s done properly, it not only tones all those areas but also strengthens your spine. I often find that in a headstand, I feel the kinks in my back release, while my posture improves, as my spine naturally aligns and straightens itself. This creates space for my breath and my internal organs to breathe.
Ready to give this fun, multi-beneficial pose a try? If so, make sure you first learn and practice with an experience yoga instructor to show you how to do it properly, until you feel comfortable. This prevents any injury and ensures you reap the all the amazing benefits this posture can bring to your body and mind.
Also by Theresa: 5 Inner Powers to Take Charge of Your Life
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Photo: Jillian via Flickr