Something came up in class this week, no pun intended. Yoga inversions. I don’t teach full inversions, sarvangasana, shoulder stand, sirsanasa, headstand, or sandasana, wheel pose. Go ahead, Yoga nazis, fire up your torches and sharpen your pitchforks. I’ll wait. I’m even going against my Viniyoga background on this one.
Inversions belong to a set of yoga poses I consider Ego Poses. There is ZERO scientific evidence proving any physical benefit to practicing these poses. There are plenty of scientific studies supporting the many benefits of practicing yoga without propagating the bullshit.
Aren’t inversions good for you?
Nope. No. Nein. Niet. Many of the full expressions of inversions, not only don’t provide benefit but they cause damage. I’m not just talking aggravation to your yoga self-esteem. We’re talking SCIENCE, people!
Inversions cannot tonify the organs.
This bullshit falls along the lines of detoxifying. Your vital organs either do that all on their own or you’ve got serious health issues. Your liver and kidneys are the bouncers of the dance club that is your body. They’re pumped already, and nothing besides eating moderately healthy and drinking the recommended amount of water can improve their job.
Inversions cannot increase blood flow to the brain.
The body is a CLOSED system. If it’s open, you’re bleeding out. You do not increase the amount of blood in the brain by being upside down. I like a good parsarita padottanasa, wide-angle standing forward fold as much as the next person but I’ve also seen a lot of murder shows and torture almost always includes hanging upside down by your ankles. TORTURE. For all kinds of reasons, the brain likes stability. Too much or too little blood flow can cause damage to the arteries, broken blood vessels, and duh duh duh . . . death by stroke.
You are NOT decompressing the spine, quite the opposite.
Gravity is our enemy for a whole slew of different reasons. OMB (click at your peril) for one and women, if you’ve breastfed an offspring, you know what I’m saying. Decompressing the spine is something viniyoga addresses in almost every pose, but inversions — no fucking way.
An inversion is nothing BUT compression. Headstands are my particular irritation. You are resting the entire weight of your body on your cervical spine. COMPRESSION.
Unless you are wearing anti-gravity boots, gravity is what keeps us on the planet. Gravity builds our bones and muscles. Gravity allows the earth to keep the atmosphere, and hey, I’m a fan of breathing.
Gravity does not cause slouching. Couching with Netflix can.
Menstruating women can do whatever yoga poses they fucking want.
I’m into modifications and less extreme expressions of most of the inversions if they have some benefit for you regarding strength or accessibility.
I am no different. I have my own ego poses. A version of wheel pose, urdhva dhanurasana was my dragon. Now, I’m into slaying sirsansana for pure ego reasons. I’m owning it. Sure, aparigraha (non-grasping, non-clinging, letting go-ness) and all of that. I’m working on it.