Certain yoga poses like inversions and forward bends increase circulation to your brain and upper body without putting excess strain on your heart, according to certified Iyengar yoga instructor Suza Francina in an article for "Yoga Journal." These poses may provide a number of health benefits, but should be practiced with caution or avoided by people with certain medical conditions. Consult your doctor if you have a medical condition that may impact your ability to perform inversions or forward bends.
Yoga poses like inversions and forward bends are thought to provide several important health benefits. By increasing circulation to your head, chest and neck through yoga, infection resistance in your lungs, sinuses and throat may improve, according to Francina. Additionally, forward bends and inversions may provide certain benefits to your mental health, including reduced anxiety and stress, according to former "Yoga Journal" editor Nora Isaacs.
Forward bends are yoga postures that increase circulation to your brain through the action of bending your body forward to lower your head below your heart. These poses can be performed in either a seated or standing position and can be modified if you have flexibility limitations. There are a variety of forward-bending postures that increase circulation to your brain, including active forward bends like the Standing Forward Bend and the Head-to-Knee pose, and restorative forward bends, such as Child's pose.
Inversions are generally more challenging poses that require you to invert your body to bring your head lower than your heart or your feet higher than your head. These poses give your heart a rest because gravity helps transport blood from your lower body to your heart. In an interview with Martha Stewart's Whole Living website, Stan Woodman, yoga teacher and co-owner of Kaia Yoga in Greenwich, Connecticut, argues that inversions have the power to enliven your mind, body and spirit. Yoga inversions often require upper-body strength and a strong sense of balance, as in the Headstand or Shoulderstand. Certain inversions, such as the Legs-Up-The-Wall pose or the Legs-Resting-on-Chair pose are restorative poses that provide similar benefits while helping you relax and reduce stress.
Consult your doctor prior to beginning a yoga regimen involving inversions and forward bends, especially if you have a medical condition that may impact your ability to perform these yoga poses. If you have high blood pressure, you should avoid any poses that position your head below your heart. These poses can raise your blood pressure, leading to increased pressure that may damage blood vessels in your brain, according to certified Hatha yoga instructor and kinesiologist Kreg Weiss in an article for My Yoga Online.
Ashley Miller is a licensed social worker, psychotherapist, certified Reiki practitioner, yoga enthusiast and aromatherapist. She has also worked as an employee assistance program counselor and a substance-abuse professional. Miller holds a Master of Social Work and has extensive training in mental health diagnosis, as well as child and adolescent psychotherapy. She also has a bachelor's degree in music.