According to Hatha Yoga traditions, inversions revitalise the whole system. They are cleansing and nourishing the body at the deepest levels. Yoga masters say that the entire physical system, under control of the brain, is energised and nourished as the brain is washed clean by the increased blood flow and flooded with rich new ingredients. Inversions improve circulation and lymph drainage, they nourish cells in the face, they ameliorate intestinal sluggishness by improving digestion and elimination. They are marvellous aid to sleep. (1)
One of my yoga teachers (Etka Anyó) said that 5 minutes inversion a day makes you a year younger over time, so she did warn those under age 20 to avoid them :).
Headstands in particular have an incredible effect on the hypophysis alongside its best companion the hypothalamus, and the pineal gland. The hypophysis and hypothalamus are like CEO’s in our great company, our endocrine, and the entire hormonal system, while the pineal gland helps to keep us motivated and happy.
I recommend this position for any time of the day. It can activate your cortisol levels in the morning if it’s on the low side, and can help you to start the day off energised, but it can also calm you down after stressful events or at the end of a stressful day.
Headstand requires a little bit of experience with balance positions, choose this not to be the first one to practice. It’s because you need to find your weightless point just before you would fall over backward and many find this is an encounter with fear.
It’s important that you do the fundamentals right to keep it safe, and whenever you feel pain in your neck or shoulders just come down and try again when the pain is gone.
- placement of the arms, head and shoulders: Pad your head and arms with a mat or a thin pillow, kneel downs and rest your forearms on the mat. Elbows are beneath the shoulders.
- Keeping the elbows under the shoulders interlace the fingers crossing the thumbs even. Arms and hands have to form a symmetric triangle.
- Now put the crown of your head on the mat nesting the back of the head with your hands. (Never place your head on the floor first!)
- Now you may start lifting your hips and walking inward. Lift one foot, pressing the forearms and elbows into the floor.
- Push the other foot the hop up gently. The higher you are able to lift the hips and the more backwards you are able to move the raised foot the less you need to hop to keep the move smooth and effortless.
- When both legs are up, you try to bring them to different positions. the one on the picture is quite beautiful.
(1) Erich Schiffmann: Yoga, The spirit and Practice of Moving Into Stillness; ISBN.: 0-671-53480-7; 1996