My yoga mentor often says to her students, “Inversions make you happy” and “backbends are enlivening.”
If both of those things are true, does that mean vrischikasana, or scorpion pose, is the ultimate, energy-giving, smile-inducing pose of them all?
An inversion is any pose that puts your heart higher than your head—so this includes down dog. Scientific research has proven inversions to be beneficial to the cardiovascular, nervous, lymphatic and endocrine systems. Being upside down causes an increase in blood flow to the head, improving brain speed and function. You may notice yourself to be thinking clearer once you slide out of an inversion.
According to an article in Be Well Buzz, the blood circulation that is improved by inversions releases neurotransmitters, which balances the hormones, making a person feel light hearted and more happy than usual.
While sometimes uncomfortable, backbends are stimulating and invigorating in a way that caffeine just can’t compare to.
Sometimes, my nighttime yoga practice keeps me up at night because these backbends get me so pumped up. Backbends keep the spine young, open up the chest and lungs, and allow the practitioner to take in more air with each breath. More breath means more energy. B.K.S. Iyengar recommended backbends as a natural remedy for pain and depression.
So when you are feeling down in the dumps, or you just had a big fight with a friend or significant other, maybe try to throw some backbends, inversions, or (double whammy) scorpions into your day. You’ll impress yourself with how strong you feel and be surprised at how greatly your mood improves.
**Remember that both inversions and (especially) backbends require a warm up. It’s best to do 30 minutes of stretching or yoga before you try to get into scorpion pose. Then you will want to spend some time doing counter stretches afterwards to release that back action you just did. Try child pose and/or happy baby.
Bridget McGahen is a certified Hatha yoga and a fitness enthusiast. She loves Jesus, her husband, healthy things, animals (doggies in particular), yoga, gym time, running, music, Oxford commas and Houston. Check out her website or follow her on Twitter.
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Ed. Caroline Scherer & Brianna Bemel