Benefits of Going Upside Down

When's the last time you hung upside down from the monkey bars?

When's the last time you hung upside down from the monkey bars?

Tipping a toddler upside down is almost always a surefire way to get him/her to squeal with delight and ask for "more! more!" but at what age do we stop doing that to children and why do we stop?  As we get older the saying "my world was turned upside down" generally has a negative connotation.  How about we instill the belief in children that being "right side up" all the time is boring so that when our lives are figuratively flipped upside down we don't freak out so much.  I was fortunate enough to take a yoga class with Gina Caputo last weekend and she commented that "perfection is boring; people like messy people" and that resonated with my type-A (recovering) perfectionist self.  I cringe when I hear people say "I'm not good at yoga so I don't go to class" not only because there is so much more to yoga than the poses, but because we aren't supposed to practice to nail a pose "perfectly" or become the "best yogi in the room"....BORING!  To me, going upside down is always a good way to get me off of downward spiral of perfectionism.    

There are so many benefits to inverting your body and you don't have to do a full headstand or handstand to reap the benefits (although most children I've taught can't wait to master their yoga headstand and/or handstand).  Inversions lower your blood pressure, boost your mood and improve your immunity.  Who doesn't want to be calm, happy and healthy?  This article gives a good synopsis of the benefits and risks of inverting.  When learning (or relearning) headstand or handstand it is important to work with a yoga teacher to ensure safety before making it a part of your regular practice.  I walked on my hands and stood on my hand a lot as a child but somewhere around the tween-age years I stopped.  Coincidence that I became more moody and controlling around that time??  Shortly before my wedding 7ish years ago a rad teacher named Shannon Connell instructed me into my first headstand in decades.  My eyes are welling up remembering the exhilaration and freedom I felt in that moment.  If you are not wanting to stand on your hands or head today as a family then at least do down dog or stand up and reach for your toes and let your heads hang.  The perspective shift will be worth it - trust me!

Namaste,
Miriam