“Yoga masters say if you only have time to do one pose a day, do an inversion,” Fulbright says. “When you’re upside down, you get a whole new perspective on life.” Inversions are yoga poses that get your head below your heart. Why are these relaxing? “The poetic way to say it is you let the nature of your heart spill into your head. The science of it is that when you get your head below your heart, it makes your body think it is getting high blood pressure, so the body goes to work to lower your blood pressure, which makes your body calm.”
Here are three easy inversions Fulbright recommends:
1. Legs Up the Wall
Sit sideways near a wall. Lean back and swing your legs up the wall (or on top of a chair seat), lying on your back. Breathe and relax for two to ten minutes. To release, lie on your side for a few breaths, then come up slowly. You should notice refreshed circulation in your legs and feet and a feeling of lightness.
2. Standing Yoga Mudra
While standing, clasp your hands behind your back (or, if you can’t clasp them, hold a necktie between your hands). Inhale as you press through your knuckles, and squeeze your shoulder blades together, opening your chest. Bend your knees and lift your arms overhead, hinging at the hips into a forward bend. Straighten your legs as much as possible without rounding your lower back. Relax your head and neck. This pose releases shoulder tension and stimulates circulation to the eyes and brain.
3. Downward-Facing Dog at the Wall
Stand with your hands on the wall, elbows bent, feet hip distance apart. Step back to make an L shape with your body. Hang out and breathe. This quick pick-me-up stretches out your back, shoulders, and hamstrings and increases energy.
This article appears in the December 2014 issue of Washingtonian.