Inversions improve circulation, digestion, and oxygen flow to the brain, Bordonaro says. They’re especially beneficial for runners and lifters because being upside down increases blood flow to the legs. After tough workouts, that change can ease soreness and help torn muscle fibers heal, he explains.
While other yoga inversions like handstands require a solid foundation of strength, flexibility, and balance throughout the entire body, the shoulder stand is more accessible to non-yogis.
To do it, lie faceup on a mat. Rock the legs toward the sky so your body is in a vertical line. Use your hands to support your lower back, with your upper arms pressing into the mat and your fingers pointing up. Keep your chin tucked to your chest and breathe through your nose. If you feel stable, slowly walk the hands up the back so your weight shifts toward your shoulders, minimizing your contact with the mat. To come out of the pose, bend the knees and roll back to the ground, one vertebra at a time.
The bottom line:
Practice the shoulder stand every night before bed (inversions help you downregulate), especially if you did a long run or leg workout, Bordonaro says. Hold it for a few breaths to start and work your way toward 3 minutes.
Photography by Mohamed Sadek