Blood Circulation in Hanging Sirsasana, Variation 1

About the Blood Circulation
Blood is the river of life that surges within us, transporting nearly everything that must be carried from one place to another. An elixir that held the mystical force of life - Prana.

To get started we need a brief overview of blood circulation, which is initiated by the pumping action of the heart. Blood exits the heart via arteries, arteries turns to tiny capillaries. Capillaries are diffusing oxygen and nutrients from the blood to the differents body tissues. Carbon dioxide and wastes move from the tissues to the blood stream via capillaries. As oxygen-deficient blood leaves the capillary beds, it flows into veins, which return to the heart. The blood flows from the heart to the lungs where it takes oxygen and then returns to the heart to start a new cycle in the body.

What is happening in the Hanging Sirsasana?
Variation 1 (With the legs in Baddhakona)
Position of the body

  • The head is upside down.
  • The soils of the feet are together.
  • The knees are in flexion.
  • The coxofemoral joints are in external rotation and small flexion.
  • There is a global traction of the spine.
  • Decompression of the head.
  • The ribs are in inspiration.
  • The shoulder are in full flexion, 90° internal rotation.
  • The scapulas are in upward rotation.
  • The fore arms are in neutral position.
  • The wrists are in neutral position.
  • The belt is doing a pression on the sacrum and the iliac joint is creating a « block » beetween them.
  • The belt is pushing the front of the tensor fasciae latae muscle.
  • The belt in pushing inside the sartorius, rectus femoris and vastus medialist muscles.
  • The diaphragm is being pushed up (looking at the body anatomy & physiology point of view and downward – towards the floor – looking from the inverted position point of view) by the pression of the liver, the stomach and pulled down (looking at the body anatomy & physiology point of view and upward – towards the ceiling – looking from the inverted position point of view) by the traction of the heart and the lungs.

How does this position of the body affects the blood circulation ?
In this study to see how the blood circulation is affected we will look at different parts seperately :

1.    The head is up side down, the heart, general view
Because we are hanging upside down the action of the gravity on our body is totally changed, naturally the blood will go to the head. The way the heart is working will also change dramatically. The flow will change and go in the different blood vessels :

  • In the right atrium : Because of the gravity blood coming from the inferior vena cava is flowing with more power, allowing the blood full of carbon dioxyde from the lower limbs and the abdomen to flow back easily to the heart. Because the arms and the head are down the blood from the superior vena cava is flowing back to the heart with more difficulty, creating a limited circulation of the blood full of carbon dioxyde back to the heart. The right atrium is only a little affected by the changement of the gravity.
  • In the right ventricle : The blood is pumping out to the lungs without a big change because the lungs and the heart are on the same level so this connection is not really affected by the change of the body position towards the gravity.
  • In the left atrium : The blood is coming back from the lungs without a big change because the lungs and the heart are on the same level so this connection is not really affected by the change of the body position towards the gravity..
  • In the left ventricle : The flow in the aorta change a lot. Most of the blood will flow in the brachiocephalic trunk, left subclavian artery, and left common carotid artery making the head and the upper limbs full of blood. The gravity will create pression in the aorta abdominal creating difficuly for the blood full of oxygen to go in the lower limb and the abdomen. The left ventricle will have the tendancy of being full. It might be a matter of precaution for the people who have problems in the Aortic valve – and practice of Hanging Sirsasana should be developed slowly and gradually, with awareness and sensitivity.

To resume : Negatiev pressure in the lower limbs and abdomen.

Normal pressure in the thorax.

Positive pressure in the upper limbs and the head.

2.    The soils of the feet are together
The contaction of the soils of the feet is activating the « venous cushions » pushing the blood out and activating the blood return to the heart.

3.    The hips
The position of the coxofemoral joints and the action of the belt on the hips muscle affect the blood circulation :

•    The femoral artery and the femoral vein are pressed :
-     in the back, the adductor longus and the pectineus muscles.
-    in the front, the satorius and the vastis medialis muscles.
•    The inguinal ligament can also compress the femoral vessels if the external rotation is deep and associates to the extension of the lumbar spine.

4.    The spine
The traction given by the inverted suspended posture of the body does not affect the global blood circulation, however we can notice a negative pression created beetween the vertebras. This negative pression helps the flow of the blood to go in and beetween the vertebras and carry more oxygen and nutriment there.

5.    The diaphragm
Diaphragm is being pushed up (looking at the body anatomy & physiology point of view and downward – towards the floor – looking from the inverted position point of view) by the pression of the liver, the stomach and pulled down (looking at the body anatomy & physiology point of view and upward – towards the ceiling – looking from the inverted position point of view) by the traction of the heart and the lungs.

The position of the ribs are in inspiration and the shoulders in full flexion combined with the « block » of the sacro-iliac joint is affecting the diaphragm :
•    The right and the left crus of the diaphragm are stretched. This is closing the hiatus aortis, and is more difficult for the blood from the heart to go down.
•    The central tendon of diaphragm is tract in front and top, creating space in the caval opening, the blood from the abdomen and the lower limb can flow back easily to the heart.

6.    The liver
In this position the liver is working more intensively, because of the over flow of blood coming from the stomach, the spleen, the intestins and the pancreas trough the hepatic portal vein.

7.    The upper limbs
The position of the shoulders create space beetween the clavicle joint and the 1st rib. This space allows the blood to flow easily to flow in the two directions, but as we are hanging the gravity is reducing the flow from the upper limbs to the heart.

8.    The neck
Because of the gravity and the traction of the neck the blood is flowing more easely in the subclavian arteries. The flow of the subclavian arteries will affect the flow in the vertebral arteries were they connect. The vertebral arteries are providing blood to the spinal cord and the brain. This pose will bring more blood is these two parts.

9.    The head
In this pose the flow of the blood from the heart through the aorta to the common arteries is incresed.

The common arteries divide in :
•    External carotid arteries, that supply blood to the structures of the neck, pharynx, esophagus, larynx, lower jaw, and face. As the flow is increased in these areas it can help to cure diseases and keep the face young.
•    Internal carotid arteries, at the base of it the carotid sinus is situated, containing baroreceptors and chemoreceptors involved in the cardio-vascular regulation. The pose affects people with hyper and hypo blood preasure. The internal carotid arteries enter the skull and divide in :

o    Opthalmic atery wich supplie the eyes
o    Anterior cerebral artery wich supplie frontal and parietal lobs of the brain
o    Middle cerebral atery wich supply mid-brain

Himalayan Iyengar Yoga Centre
Antoine Brandi

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