For most of us backbends increase the heartbeat, allowing the blood to flow quickly throughout the system. They are energising, invigorating, they wake you up. Reason is, the upper part of the body, the upper part of the thoracic spine, is connected to that part of the nervous system that is responsible for stimulating your body. When you bend your back, the nervous system wakes up and your heart beat increases, blood is racing through the body. Backbends are normally best done in the morning, they help to set you up for the day, awaken you. If you do too many though, without any relaxation in between they can make you feel anxious, so, no force but take it easy and slow. If you are anxious, you can still do backbends but you will need to do some Ocean Breathing afterwards to calm your nervous system again. The lifting and calming of the nervous system is a good thing in fact, it will help to regulate your mood.
Further to this, backbends also stretch the lungs, which helps to increase our lung capacity. The increase in lung capacity helps to enable us to take fewer breaths per minute and relaxes our nervous system. Taking fewer breaths per minute is also a sign of physical and respiratory wellness and it leads to better and increased brain functioning. Additionally longer breaths strengthen the diaphragm and this in turn helps also tone and relax the nervous system. David Shapiro of UCLA also found that backbends increase positive mood more than other postures. Further research also indicates that performing those backbends also lead to an increase of endorphins in the spinal fluid.
Backbends are opening the heart too, when we are depressed and anxious we often have a posture where we close our heart and Yoga helps to open the chest, first roll the shoulders back and lift the chest. By doing this you may find a sense of lightness emerging. You can even visualise that you are breathing light into the heart centre. You should also be aware that if we have been avoiding certain feelings we might find heart opening postures uncomfortable to start with, it can be that feelings that we tried to suppress are being re-awakened.
Yoga inversions may make you think of gymnastic-like poses such as Handstand or Forearm Stand, but any pose that has you put your head below your heart is classified as an inversion. Turning yourself upside down may take a leap of faith and seem contrary to your upright nature, but the practice provides a number of health benefits. Inversions aren’t for everyone, however. Check with your doctor if you have a chronic condition such as high blood pressure, glaucoma or epilepsy, which are contraindicated for yoga inversions.
As gravity pulls your body down, tissues and fluids in your body pool towards the lower extremities — resulting, potentially, in varicose veins and haemorrhoids. As you age, fat and skin sag, which physically and, perhaps emotionally, drags you down. Inversions give you temporary relief from the pull of gravity. Anatomist David Coulter, PhD explains in a Yoga Journal article that when you turn upside down, the fluid in your lower body drains better to the veins and lymph vessels, helping to clear up congestion in all parts of your body.Blood goes quickly to the heart and circulation improves, which may help your body get rid of waste products more efficiently and enhance the flow of nutrients to working cells. Fluid and blood that tends to concentrate in the lower lungs due to gravity is distributed to the upper lungs during inversions and this may enhance the health of your lung tissue, notes Pat Layton, physiology teacher for the Iyengar Yoga Institute of San Francisco’s Advanced Studies Program.
Yoga, particularly inversions, can help enhance immunity, notes a review published in a 2008 issue of the International Journal of Yoga.