Inverted postures are those poses in which the head is lower than the heart, the reverse of our usual upright orientation. Some examples of inverted poses are: Downward-facing Dog, Standing Forward Fold, Prasarita Padottanasana, Dolphin, Shoulder Stand, Headstand, and Legs-up-the-wall Pose.
Inverted asanas reverse the action of gravity on the body; instead of everything being pulled towards the feet, the orientation shifts towards the head. Similarly, on the emotional and psychic levels, inverted asanas turn everything upside down, throwing a new light on old patterns of behaviour and being.
Generally, these practices improve health, reduce anxiety and stress, and increase self-confidence. They also increase mental power, concentration and the capacity to sustain large workloads without strain.
Inverted asanas encourage a rich supply of blood to flow to the brain, nourishing the neurones and flushing out toxins. Blood and lymph, accumulated in the lower limbs and abdomen, are drained back to the heart, then circulated to the lungs, purified and re-circulated to all parts of the body. This process nourishes the cells of the whole human organism. The enriched blood flow also allows the pituitary gland to operate
more efficiently, tuning the entire endocrine system. This has a positive effect on the metabolic processes and even on ways of thinking.
While the body is in an inverted asana, the breath becomes slow and deep, maximising the exchange of carbon dioxide and oxygen, and generally encouraging correct respiration. In addition, the abdominal organs: the liver, spleen, stomach, kidneys and pancreas, receive a powerful massage, helping them to perform their functions more efficiently.
Traditionally, inverted asanas are used to sublimate and transform sexual energy into spiritual energy. The aim of the practices, in this context, is to stimulate the chakras, open sushumna nadi and unleash kundalini to bring about psychic awakening. While it is unlikely that kundalini will be raised through practice of these asanas alone, inverted postures undoubtedly improve the quality of meditation and concentration,
refining the consciousness and enabling it to enter unexplored levels of the mind.