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What inversion poses of yoga are needed for?

The material is intended for acquaintance and is not a practical guidance for mastering of inversion yoga poses. Please pay attention on that asanas should be mastered under the direction of experienced yoga teacher.

Importance of inversion yoga poses is pointed by many texts and yoga experts. Viparita Karani is named as one of the major poses of Hatha yoga, Sirsasana is nicknamed as «the queen of asanas», Sarvangasana influences so beneficial on the whole body that it is recommended to include this pose in any sequence of yoga poses practice. Let's examine, what is the reason for inversion poses efficiency.
An inversion is most generally categorized as any asana - in which the head is below the pelvis, are: Viparita Karani, Sarvangasana, Sirsasana, Halasana, Ardhachakrasana and others. This poses influence the body under two levels – physical and more sensual – energy level. 

Let's consider physical level.

1. Inversion poses improve brain blood supply. If take into account that functioning of a brain is depend, first of all, on its adequate blood supply, the importance of inversion poses becomes clear. In inversion position a plentiful receipt of blood in a brain, washing of cells of a brain and renovation of cells occurs. The centres responsible for work of all other organs and systems of a body, which are located in the brain, start to co-operate better with organs «under wardship» and perform the work more effectively and harmoniously: for example - the hypophysis which is responsible for our hormonal system, for growth, mental faculties, regulation of sexual glands work and for a metabolism as a whole, therefore deficiency of blood and as consequence of necessary elements can lead to work failure of the whole organism. Thus, it is a fair statement that the long and competent practice including inversion poses, decelerates process of body ageing.

2. Inversion poses help body to perform important function of blood renovation. When circulating blood accumulates vital activity waste products and needs to return back to heart to receive new portion of oxygen and nutrients and to clear up, but in shortage of physical activity of person it tends to congest, especially, in the lower parts of a body, provoking varicose veins and problems of gynecologic sphere. Organs of digestive system responsible for assimilation of useful matters and deliverance from harmful matters are also subject for hemostasis.

3. Inversion poses in some cases also have an influence on hearing and sight improvement, and also naturally improve appearance of face skin and hair condition.

4. Besides such poses in a special way influence on strength and flexibility of cervical spine.

On energy level inversion poses: 
• harmonise prana flow in a body what conduces to favourable consequences for health of a human as etheric body controls physical body functioning;
• calm mind and increase concentration;
• favour transformation in psychological and spiritual sphere;
• have deep influence on human personality and his meditative practice (some inversion poses even could be used as independent meditative technics)

This occurs to the expense of energy rising from the lowest to the higher centers, thereby level of consciousness of person rises.

Let’s consider more closely influence features of some inversion asanas.


Sarvangasana (Shoulderstand). Sanskrit word “sarva” means «all, every», and word “anga” means — «limb, bodypart». Sarvangasana is called like this because it influences on the whole body and its functions. This effect is reached generally due to harmonization of endocrine system, especially thyroid gland. 
The thyroid gland produces hormone thyroxin (and also triiodothyronine). Its basic function is regulation of nutrients and oxygen consumption speed in various body tissues. Set of such processes is called metabolism. This gland impacts on physical, emotional and intellectual development. In healthy body thyroxin is developed as much as it is necessary for body needs. If the thyroid gland is debalanced, it can secretes too little or too much of thyroxin. In case of shortage of this hormone, the person becomes sluggish, his abilities become dull, he could suffer from obesity, constipations and apathy. In case surplus output of thyroxin all functions are speed up, the person shows excessive physical and intellectual activity and is incapable to relax, breathes rapidly, loses weight and becomes extremely nervous and excitable.

Why thyroid gland could become debalanced?

1. Shortage of iodine in food (it could be filled in with bio-additives or food as milk, butter, grains, vegetables – spinach, aubergines, sorrels, beet, tomato and others). 

2. Sluggish blood circulation and lack of physical activity. And here Sarvangasana favours increase thyroid gland efficiency. Inversion position of a body strengthens blood inflow to a thyroid gland at the expense of gravity, and the neck bend in a final pose limits a normal stream of blood to a brain through external carotids. This stream is redirected to a thyroid gland. Thus, during practice of asanas nutrition and washing of thyroid gland occurs with additional quantity of blood that helps to improve its functioning.

3. Emotional stress. Hypophysis (the central regulator of endocrine system) operates directly a thyroid gland. Therefore psychological stress and dissatisfaction conduce to the disbalance of hypophysis. This leads to the general disorder of hormonal system, including a thyroid gland. The yoga helps with restoration of thyroid gland and of endocrine system on the whole normal work because of achievement of time or constant deep relaxation conditions.

We should speak about the influence of Sarvangasana on cervical spine which removes headaches and back pains. When practicing Sarvangasana it is impossible to breathe with chest because of chin pressure on the thorax, that is why process of abdominal breath is forcedly started. Such breath improves assimilation of air and provides abdominal organs with necessary constant massage. The improved breath renders a huge help in treatment of bronchitis and asthma.

In conclusion it is necessary to note that all effects of inversion poses are also applicable for Sarvangasana: improvement of digestive organs, of reproduction organs, calm of mind and transformation of energy from rough form to more delicate.


Head stand — Sirsasana — it is probably the most famous asana. Even people who has never met with aims and practices of yoga have heard about this asana. 
Though the set of exaggerations are connected with Sirsasana, nevertheless, it is wonderful asana. If it is performed correctly it can bring a lot of advantages. But if it is done incorrectly, or if it is practiced by those who is not ready for this pose, it could bring more harm, than benefits.

Sanskrit word “sirsa” means “head”. That is why this pose is called “head stand”.
However strange it could seem, but there are no mentions about Sirsasana in widely known yoga texts. Considering advantages which this asana brings, at the first sight it looks a little unexpectedly. However, it is most likely that information about this asana was transferred from the teacher to the pupil orally and by personal guidance. Thereby possibility of wrong Sirsasana practice and of injury was decreased. Only during recent time Sirsasana was described in books and had got wide popularity at a great number of people.

Scientific experiments
To measure changes that occur in organism during practice of Sirsasana, various experiments were implemented. They are scientific confirmation of our personal experience. 

X-ray shadowgraph made during Sirsasana practice showed noticeable shift of the diagram – changes of lengthwise and diametrical sizes of heart and widening of pulmonary arteries and veins especially in superior lobes of lungs. This means that more blood comes through lungs and it becomes better saturated with oxygen. Superior lobes of lungs which are restrictedly supplied with oxygen becomes free from stagnant blood. 

Tests make it clear that the quantity of air which passes through lungs in one minute (it is minute volume of lungs), when Sirsasana is practiced decreases appreciably. Frequency of breathing (quantity of breaths in one minute) decreases. Oxygen consumption by tissues increases, and it decreases in exhaled air that indicates considerable growth of carrying over of oxygen transfer to blood.

Quantity of white cells (leukocytes) in blood increase what means that resistibility of an organism to infections increases as white cells are responsible for destruction of bacteria and other alien objects in human body.

These facts are significant and reliable in case person could relax during practice. In the presence of tension during Sirsasana practice opposite results could come out.

From these experiments it is possible to conclude that Sirsasana creates big possibilities of adaptability mechanisms operation with a regard to blood circulation and breathing. 
Wholesome effect

Regular practice of Sirsasana could bring a lot of benefits. Here is only a short list of its useful properties. Perfect health of brain cages allows brain and the whole physical body through it to work effectively and in a full measure of possibilities. Intellectual processes become more vividly. Sirsasana directs fresh blood enriched with oxygen to the brain cages. Blood issues with slightly higher pressure because of gravity. Blood vessels are very elastic and can be extended or can be narrowed in accordance with pressure of blood in the system. Therefore higher blood pressure in brain leads to expansion of blood vessels and disclosure of those vessels which have been pressed or littered them for some reason. It means that billions of brain cages receive more oxygen and nutrients. And consequently, all cages restore strength and start working more effectively. Besides, additional inflow of blood at slightly higher pressure washes away accumulated toxins and waste products from brain cages. It is similar to removal of mud from the fouled pipe with a help of a strong stream of water.

It is considered that headache and migraine are partly caused by squeezing of some vessels in a brain. Sirsasana helps to relax and to strengthen these vessels and to prevent this type of aches. However please notice that Sirsasana shouldn’t be practices during a headache or a migraine. Besides, these illnesses are connected with intellectual tension and consequently Sirsasana by causing calm of mind helps to prevent them.

While the top part of a body receives additional inflow of blood, there is an outflow of blood in the bottom parts. It renders beneficial influence as blood usually congests in legs, near pelvis and in organs of abdominal cavity. This outflow favour removal of foul stagnant blood and after Sirsasana practice the pure blood filled with oxygen can replace it.

Sirsasana has more useful qualities - too much to list all of them in this article. Besides, during treatment of many diseases influence of Sirsasana practice is more delicate or indirect; therefore it is hard to attribute the results to Sirsasana. Practice of this pose improves equilibrium sense and helps in treatment of neurasthenia (which is caused by functional disorder of some nervous centres in a brain). Memory, concentration, intelligence and etc. are functions of mind, however all of them are expressed via a brain.

Halasana (plow pose) 

Sanskrit word “hala” means “plow”. Halasana is named like this because this pose is look like plow; it is not a modern mechanical plow but wooden plow which harnessed with buffalos or bulls, this kind of plows are used in India since time immemorial. Likeness is indeed very close. It is not surprising that the name of this asana is translated to many languages as “plow pose”. 

Wholesome effect
Halasana has many of Sarvangasana useful effects. However its direct influence on a brain is less but more attention is given to a back, a stomach and a pelvis. Halasana combines wholesome effects of inversion poses and forward bend poses. It almost represents the turned form of Pascimottanasana though this two poses have a distinct difference in the wholesome effect. Pascimottanasana has an effect mainly on a waist and stretches a back; on the other hand, Halasana has an effect, basically, on the top part of a back and neck area. Two asanas supplement each other.

Halasana makes all the backbone more elastic, stretches muscles, liberates vertebras and topes up the nerves located inside and outside of a spine. It conducts to more effective work of all bode organs.

During Halasana practice efficiency of thyroid and parathyroid glands rises. Stomach muscles are stretched and abdominal organs receive a massage. This helps to eliminate constipation, indigestions, a diabetes and other various diseases of digestive system. Halasana favour liquidation of stagnant processes in liver, spleen, kidneys, pancreas, adrenal glands and etc. and pours in new power. Besides, it helps to get rid of headache, pains in neck and in back.

Besides this physical wholesome effect, Halasana, which practiced with attention, can cause Pratyahara (distraction from sensory perception) as preparation for meditative techniques.

Despite remarkable advantages of inversion poses, it is important not to forget about serious contraindication to practice of such asanas.

• Inversion poses should be practiced in accordance with level of training. Here it is especially necessary to note Sirsasana, a head stand, which should be practices only if hands, shoulders and a neck are strong enough and equilibrium sense is developed. Weak wrists, forearms and neck could lead to a trauma because of unstable and incorrect position of head during inversion poses practice.

• Inversion poses should be practiced on an empty stomach - it is advisable to wait there hours after a meal before practice and eat not earlier than half an hour after practice.

• Duration of asana performance for the beginners shouldn’t be more than 3 minutes. Then time could be increased little by little: from several breathings for beginners and to move ahead gradually, attentively considering inner sensations.

• After all inversion poses it is time for short Shavasana (1-2 minutes) — till absolute restoration of breathing and heartbeat. Then contra-pose is performed (Halasana, Matsyasana, Marjaryasana or some other depending on the main pose) — and if it is the end of practice – the long Shavasana. Non-observance of this rule could be reason for rupture of eye blood vessels (“red eyes”) and on the whole this is not desirable for vascular system. This rule is especially important if inversion pose is kept for a long time (more than some minutes).

• health restrictions : pregnancy, menstruation, heart disease, strong high blood pressure, spine hernias, recent surgeries, taking of antibiotics, glaucoma and strong malfunctions of sight.

• Inversion poses are meditative but not power, they should be practiced with calm mind and even breathings. To achieve chitta vritti nirodhah (the mood of attentiveness without thoughts).