- When it comes to issues of the skin and health, I tend to believe circulation is a key component
- I’m always looking for small daily habits to better my circulation – like moderate inversions
- It doesn't need to be fancy - try the humble down dog or standing forward fold
When it comes to issues of the health, I tend to believe circulation is a key component. I have vivid memories of my parents, aunts and uncles hanging upside down on gym equipment at home or at the park. When I was young, I thought it strange – they looked like human bats! But now that I’m my parents age from these memories, I wonder if they were doing it to improve their circulation and reap potential health benefits.
Even when I think about issues of the skin, I’m constantly focused on ways to boost and enhance circulation. Just like a well-oiled machine, fluids need to be flowing and circulating well in order for things to be in tip top condition.
This is the main reason I love face massages so much, in particular working with a gua sha tool or even a sake glass. And I’m always looking for other small ways to cultivate habits to better my circulation – like inversions.
Just to level set here, I’m not talking about those girls who can just pop into a cute little handstand in the middle of the room during a yoga class. Even with my yoga instructor certification now under my belt, I happily accept I will never be one of those ladies and I’m cool with that.
My arms are weak, my butt plump and my belly soft – but still I can find a way to incorporate gentle inversions into my daily life. Starting off with the definition of inversion should be helpful here – it simply means a position where our heads are below our hearts.
Due to the fact that most of us spend our time walking straight or sitting in chairs, most of the time our heart has to work fervently to pump blood into our face and head. It’s going against gravity and working hard for you – like that salmon that will risk its life to swim upstream.
If you put yourself in an inverted position, this can make it easier for fresh oxygenated blood to flow to your head, including your scalp and face skin -now gravity is working with you. It’s a convenient way to give your face a quick oxygen blast and boost the circulation in your face (in addition to a natural face lift!), which could result in healthy and glowing skin.
One of the easiest inversions would be the humble Down Dog. Start with your knees and palms on the ground in a table top position and start to straighten your legs and lift your hips to the sky. Focus on creating length from your tailbone to the crown of your head and let your head droop under your heart. Your final position should have your feet as flat on the ground as possible (but not if it means sacrificing integrity in your back body) and your palms flat at shoulder-width distance. Try holding this for a minute or two daily and see how that feels for your skin.
Another great simple pose is the Standing Forward Fold. With your feet hips distance apart, drape your torso over your legs. Focus on shifting the weight into the balls of your feet instead of your heels, put a generous bend into your knees, clasp opposite elbows and shake your head side to side, up and down, whatever feels good. Not only is this pose great to relieve back tension, it’s an inversion and can boost circulation and that glowful energy in your face skin.
Like everything else in life, everyone is different so make sure you don’t have a condition like high blood pressure, heart disease, detached retina, etc. before engaging in a daily inversion habit. Personally, I love to incorporate a few inversions into my daily yoga practice and sometimes will just even let my head hang over the side of the bed and breathe and relax for a couple of minutes.
I asked Dr. Yoon about this and he cautioned, “while circulation is important for your skin, drastic hanging upside down exercises are more likely to cause problems with blood circulation. It is not advisable for everyone to hang upside down for skin health, because with the momentarily increased blood pressure in the face and head, it could cause blood vessels to burst and worsen redness for some.”
So make sure you talk to your healthcare advisors if you're not sure or this is new to you. Hearing this made me embrace my modest inversion practice even more and helped me let go of the aspirational "handstand in the middle of the room" goal. As you might already know, I’m all about efficiency and working smarter, not harder if I can get away with it…and subtle inversions are a perfect way to get gravity to do most of the work for you to boost circulation and your glow.
As an added benefit, they say inversions can help you see things from a fresh and new perspective - even how you view yourself. It might be an opportunity to see all the different and amazing things you are capable of too!