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Tired of looking in the mirror and noticing new lines and saggy spots? Certain yoga poses — any pose that gets your feet or hips higher than your heart — can help you look younger and more vital.

How does it work? First, inverting reverses the force of gravity — that pesky little universal necessity that wreaks such havoc on our bodies over the years. In a sense, spending time upside down temporarily suspends aging since you aren't susceptible to gravity in the same way that you are for the vast majority of your life. You also give your heart a break, as it doesn't have to work so hard to get blood to and from your extremities when you are upside-down. This little breather helps your heart gather its strength — and if you had to work 24 hours a day, seven days a week for your entire life, wouldn't you appreciate a little slacking off now and then?

Finally, inversions help the flow of lymphatic fluid, which is an important component of the immune system. A sister to the circulatory system, the lymphatic system is a series of ducts and glands that gathers waste products from and delivers immune cells to the entire body. But unlike the circulatory system — which has the heart — the lymphatic system has no pump, so it relies on gravity and muscular contraction to keep it moving to and from the extremities. When you go upside-down, the lymph can flow more easily. And when you return to right-side up, lymph flow gets another big boost (think of turning an hourglass upside down). And when your immunity is high, you are less likely to get sick, meaning you are less likely to look run down and bedraggled — two instant agers.

You may associate yoga inversions with challenging and even scary poses such as handstand and headstand. While these are powerful inversions (in addition to getting you upside-down, they tone the entire body and teach you how to work through your fear), you don't need to go to such great lengths to get the benefits of inverting. Try doing one of these easy inversions for a few minutes each day and see if you don't notice a glow and vitality in your face that wasn't there before. (Unless you're menstruating, when you want to avoid inversions so you don't make it harder for your body to release anything it's trying to get rid of.)

 

Legs up the wall

What it does: This restful pose builds a little chill-out time in to your day — it quiets the mind, gives your heart a rest, and mildly stretches the back of your legs, front of your chest, and the neck. It also makes you feel refreshed, as if you just took a five-minute nap.

How to do it: Sit on the floor with your legs straight and your right hip and shoulder touching a wall. Bend your knees and bring the soles of your feet to the floor. Lie down on your left side so that your feet and your buttocks are touching the wall. Roll on to your back and stretch your legs up, resting your heels on the wall. Place your hands either on your belly or on the floor at your sides and rest here for up to five minutes. To come out, bend your knees, roll to your right side, and slowly push up to a seated position.

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