How To Do The Viparita Karani And What Are Its Benefits

Written by Shirin Mehdi

Sanskrit: विपरीतकरणी; Viparita – Inverted, Karani – Doing; Pronounced As – vip-par-ee-tah car-AHN-ee.

The Viparita Karani is a mild inversion and is also called the Inverted Lake Pose or the Legs Up The Wall Pose. It has anti-aging effects on your body, apart from a host of other health benefits. Some Hindu scriptures state that the Viparita Karani not only reduces wrinkles but also keeps both old age and death at bay. This asana, being a restorative pose, allows the blood to circulate to every part of the body. Therefore, it helps relieve just about any ailment.

Everything You Need To Know About The Viparita Karani

  1. What You Should Know Before You Do The Viparita Karani
  2. How To Do The Viparita Karani
  3. Precautions And Contraindications
  4. Beginner’s Tip
  5. Pose Variation
  6. The Benefits Of The Inverted Lake Pose
  7. The Science Behind The ViparitaKarani
  8. Preparatory Poses
  9. Follow-Up Poses

What You Should Know Before You Do The Viparita Karani

You must make sure to keep your stomach and bowels empty before you practice this asana. Have your meals at least four to six hours before you do the asana so that your food gets digested and there is enough energy for you to expend during the practice.
It is best to practice yoga first thing in the morning. But in the event you cannot work out in the morning, it is alright to practice it in the evening.

Level: Basic
Style: Hatha Yoga
Duration: 5 to 15 minutes
Repetition: None
Stretches: Front torso, Back of the neck, Back legs

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How To Do The Viparita Karani

Being a restorative pose, many people enjoy using props like bolsters, pillows and folded blankets while doing this asana. Keep a prop of your choice next to you while doing this asana. Then, follow these steps.

  1. Find an open space near a wall and sit next to it, such that your feet are on the floor, spread in front of you, and the left side of your body is touching the wall.
  1. Exhale. Lie on your back, making sure that the back of your legs press against the wall, and that the soles of your feet face upwards. It will take you a little bit of movement to get comfortable in this position.
  1. Place your buttocks a little away from the wall or press them against the wall.
  1. Make sure your back and head are resting on the floor. You will find that your body forms a 90-degree angle.
  1. Lift your hips up and slide a prop under them. You could also use your hands to support your hips and form that curve in your lower body.
  1. Keep your head and neck in a neutral position and soften your throat and your face.
  1. Close your eyes and breathe. Hold the position for at least five minutes. Release and roll to any one side. Breathe before you sit up.

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Precautions And Contraindications

These are some points of caution you must keep in mind before you do this asana.

  1. This asana is a mild inversion, and therefore, it must be avoided during menstruation.
  1. Avoid this asana if you have severe eye problems like glaucoma.
  1. If you have serious back and neck problems, make sure you do this asana under the guidance of a certified yoga instructor.
  1. If you notice a tingling in your feet when you practice this asana, bend your knees and touch the soles, bringing your heels close to the pelvis.

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Beginner’s Tip

As a beginner, you might find it hard to get the alignment right in this pose. For this, you must breathe such that the heads of your thigh bones are firmly pressed against the wall. This will help release your spine, belly, and groin. You must imagine the inhalation descend through the torso, and pushing the heads of the thigh bones close to the wall. As you exhale each time, let your thigh bones press harder onto the wall and your torso pull away from the wall.

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Pose Variation

If you have enough space, you can spread your legs in a wide ‘V’ when they are against the wall. This will increase the stretch in the groin and the thighs. Alternatively, to increase the stretch, bend the knees and touch the soles together. Then, slide the outer edges of the feet down and bring your heels closer to your pelvis. Push your hands against the top of the inner thighs to increase the stretch in the groin.

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The Benefits Of The Inverted Lake Pose

These are some amazing benefits of Viparita Karani.

  1. It helps to relax tired, cramped feet and legs.
  1. It gives the front of the torso, back of the legs, and the back of the neck a good stretch.
  1. It relieves a mild backache.
  1. This is an asana that helps to soothe and calm the mind.
  1. This asana has therapeutic benefits for the following:

a. Anxiety

b. Arthritis

c. Digestive problems

d. Headaches

e. High and low blood pressure

f. Insomnia

g. Migraines

h. Mild depression

i. Respiratory ailments

j. Urinary disorders

k. Varicose veins

l. Menstrual cramps

m. Premenstrual syndrome

n. Menopause

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The Science Behind The Viparita Karani

This asana is an energizing inversion that relieves the spine, feet, legs, and the nervous system. It gently brings the body into a state of complete relaxation. No matter the level of experience, any yoga student can do this asana. It is said that when you take some time off in your day to reverse the forward movements of acting, doing, and accomplishing, your body and brain go into a state of pure being. This allows the mind to go into a state of deep meditation. It also calms the brain and makes it more self-aware.

It is because of these calming benefits that this asana is usually done at the end of the yoga regimen, just before your body goes into the Shavasana. But this asana can also be practiced independently, and not as a part of a routine.

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Preparatory Poses

Supta Baddha Konasana
Setu Bandha Sarvangasana

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Follow-Up Poses

Sitting Pranayama

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If you add this asana to your regular exercise routine, your mind, body, and spirit are sure to be relaxed and restored. This asana instantly lifts up your mood after a long, tiring day, especially if you have been on your feet all day. All you need is five minutes – you will be surprised at how this simple asana will energize you!

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A jack of many trades and a master of some, Shirin is a writer, a fashion designer, and a chef by her own acclaim. She loves food, and though she might want to call herself a great cook, she just falls short of seasoning. She also loves Yoga, and has extensive knowledge about the postures of the asanas. Always muddled up between traditions and modernism, she thinks she would have been a better fit in the vintage era. She loves life and believes in living it up to the fullest.