Viparita Karani or Half Shoulder Stand

Benefits, Contraindications, Tips and How to Do

English Name(s)
Viparita Karani, Half Shoulder Stand
Sanskrit
विपरीतकरणी / Viparītakaraṇī
Pronunciation
vip-par-ee-tah car-AHN-nee
Meaning
viparita: “inverted/reversed”
karani: “doing/making”
āsana: “posture”

Introduction

Viparita Karani (vip-par-ee-tah car-AHN-nee) is a restorative pose similar to Sarvangasana. It gives relaxation to the abdomen, legs, and lower back, especially after standing asanas. This encourages deep and smooth breathing. This pose improves digestion and elimination. It also improves lung capacity and makes them elastic and stronger. This asana can also be used as a substitute for Shavasana with beginners.

Yoga may be an effective way to improve the autonomic nervous system. This was shown by a small-scale longitudinal pilot study in which participants who increased their time on inversions from 7 minutes per session over eight weeks had more efficient heart rate rhythms than those with less exposure, suggesting that this type of exercise can have restorative effects on your body’s natural balance.

Muscle Focus

Viparita Karani focuses on several muscles such as

  • Shoulders Muscles (Deltoids)
  • Arms (Biceps Brachii, Triceps)
  • Upper back (Trapezius and Rhomboids)
  • Core muscles (Transverse Abdominis and Multifidus)
  • Buttocks (Glutes)

Ideal For Health Conditions

  • To Improve body and mind coordination.
  • To experience inversion where the headrests below the heart level.
  • To improve brain functioning.

Benefits of Viparita Karani or Legs up the Wall Pose or Half Shoulder Stand

1. Relieves Tensions from Different Parts of the Body

Headaches and migraines can be caused by tension in the neck and shoulders. Viparita Karani can help to relieve this tension, which may lead to fewer headaches and migraines.

2. Improves Circulation

As mentioned earlier, Viparita Karani helps to energize the body by improving circulation and providing a rush of fresh blood to the brain. Additionally, this pose is relaxing, which can help you feel more energetic overall.

3. Relieves Lower Back Issues

Lower back tightness and discomfort can be caused by tension in the muscles of the back and hips. Viparita Karani can help to relieve this tension, which may lead to relief from low back pain.

4. Eases Leg Cramps

Leg and feet cramps can often be alleviated by stretching the muscles in the legs and feet. Viparita Karani is a gentle way to stretch these muscles, which may help to relieve cramps.

5. Improves Lymphatic System Functioning

Lymph is a fluid that helps to remove waste from the cells of the body. Viparita Karani can help to promote lymph flow, which may help to detoxify the body and reduce inflammation.

6. Eases Varicose Veins

Varicose veins are a condition in which the veins become swollen and twisted. Viparita Karani can help to manage varicose veins by improving circulation and helping to reduce swelling.

7. Helps to Energies the Body

Viparita Karani is a great way to energize the body. It helps to improve circulation and provides a rush of fresh blood to the brain. This pose also relaxes the mind and allows you to focus on your breath, which can help to clear your head and increase energy levels.

8. Relaxing Pose

Viparita Karani helps to energize the body by improving circulation and providing a rush of fresh blood to the brain. Additionally, this pose is relaxing, which can help you feel more energetic overall.

9. Soothes Menstrual Cramps

Some yoga traditions advise against doing Viparita Karani during menstruation, as it may aggravate symptoms. However, others claim that the pose can help to soothe menstrual cramps. Consult with a doctor or yoga instructor before practicing this pose if you are menstruating.

10.  Focuses the Mind

As mentioned earlier, Viparita Karani is a great way to relax the mind and focus on your breath. This can be beneficial if you are feeling stressed or anxious.

11.  Alleviates Sciatica Pain

Sciatica is a type of pain that often radiates from the lower back down the legs. Viparita Karani can help to relieve this pain by stretching the muscles and nerves in the back and hips.

12.  Helps to Regulate Metabolism

The thyroid gland regulates many aspects of metabolism, including energy levels. If you have a thyroid condition, practicing Viparita Karani may help to improve your thyroid function.

Contraindications

Women who are menstruating should avoid this asana. If students have tight hamstrings it’s difficult to rest the legs close against the wall. Keep the buttocks away from the wall.

Variations

  • Sirshasana (Headstand)
  • Ardh Halasana (Plow Pose)
  • Padma Sirshasana (Lotus Pose in Headstand)
  • Salamba Sarvangasana (Shoulder Stand)

Preparatory Pose

  • Sirshasana (Headstand)
  • Salamba Sarvangasana (Shoulder Stand)
  • Ardh Halasana (Plow Pose)

Beginner’s Tips

  • If you find it difficult to balance, keep your shoulder firmly placed on the ground.
  • Place a folded blanket or bolster under your hips for extra support.
  • Use a wall for support if needed.
  • Try extending one leg at a time.
  • Hold for longer periods of time (up to five minutes).

How to do Viparita Karani

  • Start by lying down on your yoga mat with legs extended.
  • Inhale and bring both knees into your chest.
  • Exhale and extend your right leg up then left leg up towards the ceiling.
  • Lift your entire body as high as you can on your shoulder.
  • Keeping your elbows at 90-degree grab your upper back
  • Balance your entire body on the shoulder stand.
  • Hold for a few breaths.

Mental Benefits of Viparita Karani

  • Reduces stress and anxiety
  • Promotes feelings of calm and relaxation
  • Clears the mind and helps to focus on the present moment

Bottom Line

Viparita Karani is a restorative pose similar to Sarvangasana. It gives relaxation and relief from tension in the lower back, legs as well as abdominal area after standing Asanasia has made them more flexible for deep breathing that improves digestion with this easy on-the-go position.

1 sources
  1. https://bmcresnotes.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1756-0500-6-59
Meera Watts
Meera Watts is the owner and founder of Siddhi Yoga. She is known around the world for her thought leadership in the wellness industry and was also recognized as a Top 20 International Yoga Blogger. Her writing on holistic health has appeared in Elephant Journal, CureJoy, FunTimesGuide, OMtimes and other international magazines. Meera is a yoga teacher and yoga therapist, though now she focuses primarily on leading Siddhi Yoga, blogging and spending time with her family in Singapore.

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