Have you ever wondered why in the world someone would stand on their head? While it may seem unnatural, this ancient yoga pose actually has many incredible benefits. In addition to building core strength, confidence, and literally changing how you see the world, headstands have been linked to glowing skin and the reduction of wrinkles! So, before you dish out hundreds of dollars on the latest youth-restoring beauty creams, or cosmetic treatment, how about giving going upside down a try?!
Headstands literally reverse the flow of gravity, flushing nutrient-rich, oxygenated blood from the heart to the face, leaving you with a natural, healthy glow. In addition, people who practice headstands regularly have reported a decline in hair loss, which scientifically makes sense since going upside down also pumps blood straight to the scalp and hair follicles. Studies are still being done to support this theory, but whether headstands will give you a fuller head of hair or not, there are several clinically-proven benefits worth giving inversions a try. Here are a couple:
- They can boost your mood
It’s no secret that stress is the #1 cause of many diseases and disorders. And, in our fast-paced, results-driven society, we are constantly combating both external and interal pressures. When our bodies and minds are under stress our adrenal glands release the steroid hormone cortisol, which breaks down collagen, a natural protein responsible for skin elasticity. Contrary to popular belief, when we are safely upside-down we feel an incredible sense of calm. This reduces the production of cortisol, boosting our mood and relieving anxiety.
- They increase focus
Not surprisingly, standing on your head also increases the blood flow to the brain. This can help to improve mental function, making our minds sharper and clear. Also, when upside down it’s almost impossible to not be present. We are naturally inclined to avoid pain and injury, so when practicing headstand it’s crucial to focus on breathing deeply and calmly, which inevitably will also bring the mind to a less chaotic, distracted state.
Despite all these amazing benefits, the main factor stopping people from going upside down is FEAR. So here are a few tips on how to safely attempt a headstand. Note: If you’re new to head standing, it’s highly recommended that you try this posture under the guidance of a seasoned yoga teacher rather than alone at home.
- Place the skinny edge of your yoga mat against a wall. If you have a thin mat, fold it over for more cushioning.
- Get onto all fours facing the wall.
- Lower onto your forearms and be sure your elbows are stacked under your shoulders.
- Lace your knuckles together and position your fist about a half-inch from the wall.
- Place the crown of your head in between your palms, cupping your hands around the back of your skull.
- Tuck your toes and walk your feet in until your shoulders are directly over the elbows.
- Engage your core and bend one knee at a time into your chest so that your pelvis is stacked right above your head, making sure to keep knees bent while pressing your body weight firmly into your forearms to avoid excess pressure on the head and neck. It’s perfectly fine to rest your tailbone against the wall for safety and security.
- If you feel comfortable, slowly extend one leg at a time up to the wall, keeping your glutes engaged to avoid arching your lower back, and pointing your toes to encourage a lift upwards, taking weight off of your upper body.
- Breathe in through your nose for three counts, and out through your mouth for 4 or 5 counts to calm your central nervous system while you hold this pose until you feel it is no longer sustainable.
- To exit, bend your knees into your chest and slowly return your feet to the floor, then rest in child’s pose for at least 10 slow breaths to let the body acclimate to no longer being upside down.
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