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Yoga Science

Posted Apr 09 2013 9:23pm
yoga

yoga (Photo credit: GO INTERACTIVE WELLNESS)

Today in my yoga class, I held my headstand for a good minute or so. Maybe longer! This is the second time I’ve held the pose that long, and while I had my feet in the air I found myself thinking about all the things you hear about inversion poses: they bring new blood into your joints, women shouldn’t do them while on their “cycle” (I don’t know, I think we’re all always on our cycles? But that’s another post for another time), they’re good for depression…when I came out of the pose, I was met with an overwhelming sensation of feeling, well, sweaty. Really, I sweat more in that headstand than I had at any point during the rest of the practice. What is that about? I don’t know that I felt any “new” blood coursing through my veins, or that my mood had been improved.

Nat and I frequently have this little argument where I tell him that specific yoga poses are good for specific purposes. “Oh, yeah, a lot of emotion is stored in the hips, so hip openers can make you a little crazy!” I recently told him. (Note that “a little crazy” means “somewhat emotional” here.) His response was, in so many words, that this was bullshit. He’s said the same thing about twisting poses being a good way to detoxify your organs, shoulder stand stimulating the thyroid (or something, I don’t remember exactly what), and just about everything else that’s vaguely medical that I’ve ever brought up in the context of yoga.

Personally, I don’t know what to think. When I come out of an inversion, I do usually feel pretty good. Inversions are hard, and when I do them, it makes me proud of myself. So technically, they do help me with depression because they give me something positive to focus on. I’ve lost weight doing yoga, but I can’t say for sure if that’s because I’m stimulating certain glands or just because I’m exercising and developing more muscle. And for some reason lately I’ve done way too many detoxifying practices–my stomach has been upset for a while, maybe trying to work out all those toxins I wrung out of my organs while holding twisted chair pose?

I’m a pretty scientific person, and a big time skeptic when it comes to anything that’s even vaguely mystical. I can understand where Nat’s coming from when he calls BS on all my yoga remedies. But deep down, I think I kind of believe they’re true. And I also think that believing they’re true makes them true.

Or maybe I’ve just spent too long in headstand, and all the blood in my head is clouding my judgment.

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