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Did you know that putting your feet up actually has health benefits outside of just feeling relaxed? I’m not talking about simply resting your feet on the ottoman when you watch TV, though. I’m talking about elevating the feet above the head, or placing the body in a position where the head is below most of the body (think downward dog pose in yoga). Let’s talk about some of the benefits of inversions so you can decide if this is something you’re comfortable incorporating into your wellness routine.
1. Boosts Your Mood: Have you ever noticed that rush you get when you go upside down on an amusement park ride or when you hold a kid upside down by their ankles? All that blood rushing to the brain gives you a totally different sensation, one that you’re not used to, which makes most people feel giddy and silly, and some feel uncomfortable with the “different” feeling.
2. Boosts Your Immunity: Inversion not only redirects blood flow, but also aids in improving the flow or movement of lymphatic fluid. Lymph is interstitial fluid containing white blood cells, which help fight infection. When we have excess lymphatic fluid, we experience swelling, especially in the extremities. Staying active aids in the movement of this fluid through the lymphatic system and back to the heart so it can reenter the bloodstream. However, sometimes basic physical activity isn’t enough because it does nothing to combat the effects of gravity. Inversion aids in lymphatic flow and function by encouraging the return of this fluid so the lymph nodes can assess the lymph and plan to fight any suspected infection.
3. Boosts Your Memory: As we know, the brain requires a consistent blood flow in order to maintain optimal function. Restricted blood flow to the brain can be detrimental to brain function. Inversions encourage blood flow toward the brain, essentially improving memory function. When you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed, inversions (even small ones) can help to refocus.
4. Boosts Blood Flow: Many of us are standing or sitting for most of the day. The blood can begin to “pool” in your lower extremities if they’re always below the rest of your body. An inversion allows the blood to safely drain from the leg veins, which can boost your overall blood flow.
Before completely immersing yourself in inversions, you can test the waters to see how you feel. Starting with downward dog or even laying on the floor with your feet elevated up onto the couch (place a small pillow under your hips/low back if you need more support). If these positions bring you joy and help you feel more vibrant, I suggest moving forward and experimenting with some more intense yoga positions that include inversions.