Advanced inversions such as Headstand, Shoulderstand, and Plough have widely touted benefits, yet they’re not for everyone. Because they can place a lot of pressure on your neck, the risk of injury often outweighs the benefits they can bring. Doing them properly requires significant flexibility and strength. So please be cautious and don’t feel that you have to add them to your asana repertoire. In fact, there are several other safe and simple inversions that bring similar benefits without the risks.
One such pose is Lying Waterfall, simply lying on your mat with buttocks close to the wall and your legs extended up the wall. Reverse Arrow is similar to Shoulderstand but safer because your body weight rests on your arms and hands rather than on your neck.
Another is Summit Pose, which has many of the benefits of inversions while also strengthening your arms and shoulders, stretching your legs, and building stamina.
Inversions boost circulation and help decongest your internal organs, improving your health on many levels. For example, they improve digestion and elimination, brighten the complexion, and help alleviate menstrual disorders (but don’t do them while menstruating). Upside down poses are rejuvenating and can help clear your head when you feel tired or sluggish and your mind is dull. Inversions in which you hold your legs above your head can also help reduce the pressure and pain associated with varicose veins.
One caution with inversions though: even these simple ones should be avoided (with the possible exception of Lying Waterfall) if you have high blood pressure, heart or circulation problems, or if you experience vertigo.