Well, it’s true – though I suppose it’s not quite necessary (though a fun party trick) to contort your body like an 80-pound, zero-body-fat-contortionist to get the benefits. Just a few yoga poses will do the trick.
Turning upside down not only does wonders for (and really surprises) your circulatory system, but has a bunch of other super benefits:
- calms the nervous system and brain
- relieves stress
- strengthens arms, legs, spine, abs and lungs
- improves digestion
- therapeutic for asthma, insomnia, infertility and sinusitis
But you don’t even need to fly up on your hands like a monkey – a simpler inversion with similar benefits is to lie flat on your back and raise your legs perpendicular to the floor (this can be done with your legs resting against a wall for optimal comfort). Just stay in this pose for 5-10 minutes and notice the tension melt away……and get ready for inspiration to flow into your newly relaxed brain!
Easy Routine for Home Practice
- Child Pose
- Seated Forward Bend
- Spinal Twist on Floor
Benefits: releases tension in shoulders and spine, eases mental fatigue, stretches hips, thighs and ankles, calms brain
Cautions/contraindications: diarrhea, pregnancy, knee injury
Instructions: sit on your heels, toes touching, heels apart. Inhale. Exhale and lower head to floor in front of knees. If you can’t reach, place a block or rolled up blanket on floor for your forehead. Place hands, palms up, next to your feet. If it strains your hips, knees or ankles, place a rolled up blanket under your sit bones. Relax and breathe. Try and stay in pose for 5 minutes once you feel comfortable with it.
Alternative: sit on your heels big toes touching, heels apart, take your knees apart about shoulder width, inhale and straighten spine, exhale bend forward reaching your arms straight out in front of you on the floor, resting your forehead on the mat or a block/blanket
Benefits: stretches and strengthens thighs, knees and ankles, stretches hips, groins, hamstrings, and calves; shoulders, chest, and spine, relieves stress, improves digestion, relieves backache
Cautions/contraindications: diarrhea, headache, neck problems (don’t look up at ceiling, look straight ahead or at floor)
Instructions: walk or jump your legs 3.5 – 4 feet apart (the wider apart, the harder the pose). Turn your right foot out 90 degrees, turn your left foot in slightly. Turn your right thigh outward, so center of knee is in line with right ankle. Exhale and extend torso to the right, directly in line with thigh, and rest right hand on right thigh, shin or ankle (whichever you can most comfortably reach – do not strain). Rotate torso to the left. Stretch your left arm towards ceiling. Gaze can be focused on ceiling, straight ahead or floor
Benefits: stretches hamstrings, spine and lower back, induces sense of calm and letting go, calms nervous system and brain, relieves stress and mild depression, improves digestion, soothes headaches
Cautions/contraindications: asthma, diarrhea, back injury
Instructions: sit on floor, extend legs in front of you. If very stiff, sit on rolled up blanket. Flex your feet, sit up straight, inhale as you lift your arms above your head and exhale as you bend from the hips to lower your chest to the legs. Place hands on any part of the leg you can reach. Hold for 10 breaths.
Alternative: stand up straight, bend from the hips to lower your torso and arms towards floor as far as you can reach. Relax and breathe
Benefits: improves circulation, stretches inner thighs, groin and knees, relieves mild depression, anxiety and fatigue, stimulates heart
Cautions/contraindications: groin or knee injury (place blanket under outer thighs for support)
Instructions: sit up straight, bring the soles of the feet together, pull them toward groin and clasp your hands around your feet. Inhale and straighten spine. Exhale and bend forward, pressing your elbows into your thighs or calves for an extra stretch. If very tight, sit on blanket for support.
Alternative: legs in same position as above, lie down on the floor, arms by the side and relax
Benefits: releases lower back tension, improves digestion, lengthens spine, increases flexibility of spine, back and ribs
Cautions/contraindications: diarrhea, headache, insomnia, menstruation
Instructions: lie down on your back, bend your knees, take your arms out to your sides so you make the letter “T” with your torso and arms. Inhale. Exhale and drop your knees to the right and turn your head to the left. Hold and breathe. Switch sides
A Soft Pretzel with your Beer?
Ok, so you don’t actual need to twist into weird, unrecognizable shapes to get the benefits of yoga. Just the simple act of moving, stretching, toning and strengthening your body, getting it into positions it’s not used to, will give you energy, reduce anxiety and stress, induce calm and relaxation and give plenty of fresh new room for creativity so you can do what you are meant to do – create brilliant and inspiring films (or whatever else the muse inspires you to do).
Here are just some of the benefits of yoga:
- increases energy and endurance
- improves memory
- reduces anxiety, stress, depression and hostility
- induces calm and peace
- increases positive outlook and optimism
- sharpens attention, focus and self-control
- improves digestion
- reduces chronic pain
Sound convincing? Go forth and find a yoga studio – they are all over the place nowadays. And then you can have a celebratory beer and pretzel, just don’t overindulge, otherwise the headstand will be a killer!
Check out more details on the benefits of yoga than you probably ever wanted to know… along with medical studies to support the findings: