“Work it Out” – Get over that mid-week hump with the added gusto of a new work out move. Some moves may be borrowed from the Kama Sutra. Possibly.
What if I told you that for three minutes a day, you could move towards the Fountain of Youth?
What if I told you that there was something you could do to get amazing cardiovascular benefits that did NOT involve running, Zumba, or other traditional aerobic activity?
What I told you that you don’t need to purchase anything, go to the gym, or sweat to achieve this?
Hell, you don’t even have to wear clothes if you don’t want to.
This month’s Work it Out Wednesday features the wonders of simple Inversion.
Known in yoga practice as Viparita Karani, this inversion can be as simple as raising your feet up and supporting them with a wall or other hard surface. It can also be used to build endurance towards a should or head stand – but, the benefits of the inversion do NOT require that advanced level.
Let’s take a look at the different ways this pose may look in varying stages of ease:
As you can see in the progression, you may have your torso all the way from a 90 degree to a 180 degree angle, supported or unsupported. The recommendation is that you start with the wall support and keep your chin up off your chest and your gaze looking upward to protect your neck. The ideal time to hold this pose is 3-5 minutes.
The benefits of inverting the body are well documented in eastern medicine, and becoming more so on the Western front as practices such as yoga gain in popularity.
Inversion profoundly stimulates both the Cardiovascular and Lymphatic systems, working together to combat aging.
Cardiovascular: inversion gives the heart a break… the heart normally has to work VERY hard to defy gravity and get blood flow up to the brain and sensory organs. When you invert yourself, getting your feet above the heart, you reverse the pressure differential and allow the heart to work with gravity to get blood to the brain [the most important organ]. With gravity working in favor, blood floods the carotid arteries in the neck and tiny baroreceptors sense the pressure reversal and slow down the flow of blood. What’s a fancy term for “rate of blood flow”? Blood Pressure. Meaning, there is evidence that inversion can, at a minimum, temporarily lower blood pressure and help prevent varicose veins.
Lymphatic: The lymphatic system is the waste removal system of the body and it, too, is normally working against gravity. When you invert this system, it gets heavily stimulated and works to counter edema [swelling] in the legs and feet as well as clear the sinuses and boost immunity.
According to David Coulter, Ph.D., who taught anatomy at the University of Minnesota for 18 years, when one inverts, tissue fluids of the lower extremities drain—far more effectively than when one is asleep. Areas of congestion clear. In a 1992 Yoga International article on Headstand and the circulatory system, Coulter wrote: “If you can remain in an inverted posture for just 3 to 5 minutes, the blood will not only drain quickly to the heart, but tissue fluids will flow more efficiently into the veins and lymph channels of the lower extremities and of the abdominal and pelvic organs, facilitating a healthier exchange of nutrients and wastes between cells and capillaries.”
There you have it!
Please reach out to MissFit with questions or comments and please exercise safely and know your limits. The cardiovascular benefits are certainly not out-shined if you injure yourself.
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