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Viparita Karani Asana or Legs Up the Wall Pose

Benefits, Contraindications, Tips and How to Do

English Name(s)
Legs up the Wall Pose, Half Shoulder Stand
Sanskrit
विपरीत करणी आसन / Viparita Karani Asana
Pronunciation
vip-par-ee-tah car-AHN-nee
Meaning
viparita: “inverted/reversed”
karani: “doing/making”
āsana: “posture”

Viparita Karani Asana at a Glance

Viparita Karani Asana: In yoga, there are many yoga poses for peace of mind and sleep, but Viparita Karani Asana is recommended for a peaceful sleep. It also improves blood circulation to every part of the body and head. This also has anti-aging effects on the body and is called an Inverted Lake Pose. It helps to release tension and induce sleep. An ancient yogi, Vivekamartanda, from the 13th century describes the Viparita Karani practice as the yogic withdrawal (Pratyahara).

Benefits:

  • It helps blood flow to all parts of the pelvic region, including the head.
  • It helps to regulate the Blood Pressure.
  • Viparita Karani, the legs up the wall pose helps to refresh your tired legs.
  • Viparita Karani helps to relax and gives peace of mind.
  • This relaxes your mind and helps to get better sleep.
  • This can also be done as the preparatory pose.

Who can do it?

This is a simple and soothing pose for any beginner with a normal health condition. People dealing with a lot of stress and anxiety can do Viparita Karani to let go of the stress and tension. People who have sleep issues can do this pose to relax their minds and bodies and get better sleep.

Who should not do it?

Ladies during the menstrual cycle should avoid it. People with high blood pressure should avoid it. If you are pregnant avoid doing it or consult your health care professional. People with eye conditions such as glaucoma should avoid doing the Viparita Karani pose.

How to Do Viparita Karani Asana?

Follow the Step-by-Step Instructions

The Pose can be done with or without the support, depending on your physical stability. This is good to do in between meals but 4 to 5 hours after the meal. This could act as a natural sleeping pill if done regularly before bed.

  1. Lie down on an even and soft surface near a wall (knees bent).
  2. Now bend your knees and bring your buttocks close to the wall so that it becomes easy for the support.
  3. Keep your feet flat on the ground and your hands on the side of your body.
  4. Now relax your body by breathing normally.
  5. Now inhale slowly and deeply, then breathe out and slowly lift your legs up till it is in line with your hips (90 degrees from) and your soles facing the ceiling.
  6. Keep your arms relaxed along your side or extend outward, forming a T shape.
  7. Keep the wall as the support. Your buttocks can take the support of the wall for better balance and stability for the Viparita Karani wall Pose (body forms an L shape).
  8. Keep your toes pointed and relaxed in the Viparita Karani, legs up the wall pose.
  9. Your legs should be stretched, and don’t bend your knees.
  10. Close your eyes to relax and avoid distractions in the Viparita Karani.
  11. Don’t lift your hip too much in the Viparita Karani wall yoga pose.
  12. Now relax your body by breathing in and out. Breathe normally and hold for 6 to 10 counts or 1 to 2 minutes.
  13. While you release the legs up the wall Pose (inverted Lake Pose), inhale and exhale and gently bring your hips down release the arms and legs place the foot on the ground, and extend your legs to relax.
  14. Now, to do without the support of the wall, lie down on one side of your body and slowly roll on your back.
  15. Keep your legs straight and arms on the side of the body.
  16. Inhale gently and leave your legs straight up, and when the soul of your foot faces the ceiling, bring your palms to support your hip.
  17. With the support of the palm and the elbow resting on the ground and keeping it inward, lift your hips further.
  18. Here your buttocks will be 45 degrees from the floor and your legs straight but slanting where your toes will be above the head region.
  19. Your toes will be pointed, and don’t bend your knees.
  20. Hold the pose for about 6 to 8 counts, and breathe normally.
  21. While you release, exhale gently and bring your buttocks to the floor, then release the arms and bring your legs to the floor.
  22. Don’t come down from this yoga pose with a jerk.
  23. Now relax with a few gentle breaths.

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What are the Benefits of Viparita Karani Asana?

  • This is an easy yoga pose that gives improved flexibility with amazing benefits- if you practice regularly.
  • This relaxes the discomforts and stress in the legs and feet caused due to prolonged periods of sitting or standing.
  • The yoga asana practice will help you sleep peacefully and improve your sleep quality.
  • This asana helps stretch your torso and also helps with mild headaches.
  • Practicing this yoga can boost the balance and stability of the entire body and calm down your nervous system.
  • It puts gentle pressure on your abdominal organs and helps with constipation and bloating.
  • This is good for lower back pain, as it stretches and massages the muscles.
  • For some women, this could be helpful during their menstrual cycle.
  • The best thing is this is accessible to anyone, beginner to advanced level people, as this a relaxing and soothing pose, done with or without support.

Health Conditions that Might Benefit from Viparita Karani Asana?

  • For people suffering from stress and anxiety, Viparita Karani yoga therapy can be helpful to reduce their stress and anxiety and give them a state of relaxation and peace.
  • This asana can be helpful to people with mild back pain due to their everyday work life.
  • It can be beneficial to pregnant women to reduce the swelling in their legs but should be done under the guidance of the prenatal yoga teacher after consulting their health care professional.
  • For some people with high Blood Pressure, Viparita Karani yoga asana could be of good help to reduce blood pressure, but in case you are suffering from severe hypertension, first consult your health care provider for guidance.
  • This can help people with digestion issues, as the blood flows to the abdominal organs,, and can help with constipation, bloating, and gas.

Safety and Precautions

  • Be careful or consult your health care professional if you do Viparita Karani yoga asana during your menstrual cycle.
  • During pregnancy, you should be safe and careful and avoid or consult your health care professional.
  • People with very high BP and glaucoma should avoid this Viparita Karani yoga asana.
  • You are unique and so is your physique so do this asana with support if you feel any discomfort.
  • Beginners should do it under the guidance and proper instructions of a yoga trainer to get into a correct and comfortable posture.

Common Mistakes

  • Don’t do this asana on an uneven or hard surface. Use a yoga mat or any soft base.
  • Don’t jerk your body when lifting your legs or releasing the pose.
  • If you are doing with the wall support, see that your hips and buttocks are near to the wall and touching the wall and not too far.
  • Your legs and feet against the wall should be relaxed.
  • Avoid tension in your neck. Keep it relaxed. You can use a soft cushion or folded blanket
  • Unknowingly, we start holding our breath to avoid this mistake.
  •  Let your breath be natural and breathe continuously.
  • While doing without support, don’t lift your hips too up.

Tips for Viparita Karani Asana

  • You can pose on a yoga mat, soft carpet, and even surface. Beginners can do this near the wall to support their legs.
  • The place should be quiet and comfortable, as this is to relax your body and mind.
  • Props are important if your body asks for or feels some discomfort. Use soft cushions and a folded blanket under your hips, lower back, or neck if needed (with or without wall support).
  • Alignment is really important to get a proper pose. Keep your lower back flat and maintain the neck and spine alignment. Don’t strain your back.
  • People without support should not jerk their bodies while releasing from the pose or lift their head while releasing the pose.
  • After you get into the pose, you can close your eyes to feel your inner self relax and keep yourself away from any outer distractions.
  • If you are new to the pose, progress gradually, don’t overdo and don’t hold the pose for more than 5 to 7 minutes (start with lesser time).
  • When you practice it regularly with the support of the wall, gradually, you can do it without it. But consistency is key to avail the benefits.
  • When you come out of the pose, with support or without support, always relax your body with your legs on the floor and hands relaxed. Relax your whole body.

The Physical Alignment Principles for Viparita Karani Asana

Physical Alignment for the Wall Support

  • Sit near the wall, your hips and buttocks near or touching the wall, which helps for better balance and support.
  • Lie on your back. Keep your back and neck relaxed.
  • Don’t keep your feet or toes stiff, keep it natural and relaxed.
  • Your arms should be resting on the sides and palms facing up and relaxed
  • Shoulders should be grounded and relaxed.
  • Keep your breath gentle and deep. Inhale and while you exhale let out the tensions inside you.
  • If possible, keep your eyes closed to avoid any distractions and be with your inner self.
  • Start with a lesser duration and gradually increase according to your comfort level.

Now Alignment Principle without Support

  • Lie down on one side and roll on your back.
  • Straighten your legs and arms and relax.
  • Lift both legs straight up, to lift your hips further up support with your palms and elbow on the ground and towards inward.
  • There should be a distance of 45 degrees between your hip and the ground.
  • Don’t lift your hips further.
  • Your legs slanting but straight and your toes should be above the head region and not further.
  • Here you can use props under your hips and neck for support and comfort.
  • Keep your breath normal and steady.
  • When you release don’t drop your legs, first, bring your hips down remove your palm and elbow then gently bring your leg down and relax.

Viparita Karani Asana and Breath

When you are in the relaxed pose just breathe deeply and gently. Inhale when you lift your legs. And when your legs are up exhale and hold the pose and not eh breath. The breath should be flowing in and out till you hold the pose. Concentrate on your breath and every time you exhale let go of the tension out. While releasing the pose inhale bring your legs down and relax, Breath in gently and feel the stretch and calmness of this Viparita Karani sleep yoga.

Viparita Karani Asana and Variations

  • You can do this asana with the wall support
  • This can be done by lifting your hips with palm and elbow support.
  • You can place a cushion or folded blanket under your hips for support to do it with better comfort.
  • You can also do it with wall support, your legs against the wall and both the soles of the feet meeting each other (creating a diamond shape of legs), knees outward.

Take Away

This is a wonderful pose with amazing benefits. This is a simple but stress reliever and helps to relax your body parts and your mind. Any yoga student can do this according to their physical limitations, as this has variations with and without support.

In Hatha yoga, Pradipika Viparita Karani is listed as a mudra. Closing your eyes during the pose helps to know your inner self with coordination of breath. Doing this pose mindfully will help to reduce your stress and tension to a great extent.  Add this to your everyday routine and get over your everyday stress and anxiety and also benefit for other health conditions.

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Meera Watts
Meera Watts is the owner and founder of Siddhi Yoga International. She is known worldwide for her thought leadership in the wellness industry and was 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. She got the Top 100 Entrepreneur of Singapore award in 2022. Meera is a yoga teacher and therapist, though now she focuses primarily on leading Siddhi Yoga International, blogging and spending time with her family in Singapore.

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