By Dr Raghuram Y.S. MD (Ay) & Dr Manasa, B.A.M.S
Viparita Karani is called as inverted pose. It is also known as viparita karani asana. It is the simplest of the inverted asanas, easy to do. It is said to bestow similar benefits of shirshasana i.e. head stand and sarvangasana i.e. shoulder stand. The asana is a basic pose for the mudra of the same name. Therefore the final pose for the mudra and asana are one and the same. So the mudra and asana of the same name are used as synonyms.
Read – Yogasana – Spiritual, Physical And Mental Benefits, Classification
Viparita = inverted / turned around / reverse
Karani = doing / making / action
Mudra = gesture / seal / pose
It can also be done with the help of the wall. Therefore it is also called as Legs-up-the-wall pose / gesture.
Effect of this mudra – All asanas have a gravitational pull of all the organs downwards. In the inverted asana / mudra like viparita karini this effect is reversed. This will have astounding health benefits. It is said to be highly effective for those suffering from piles and hydrocele.
In Hatha Yoga Pradipika it is mentioned as a mudra. Its purpose is for directing of energy or Kundalini upwards within the body using gravity.
Read – Mudra – The Science Of Gesture: Benefits, Types, How To Practice
- Lie on your back, in a supine position, in a comfortable place and in a relaxed way.
- Breathe normally. Rest your hands on the floor / mat by the side of the body.
- Slowly try to raise your legs until they are 90 degrees to the floor.
- Gradually put your hands under the lower back, at the level of waist. Use the hands and elbows to raise your body further up.
- Hold your breath inside while raising the body to the vertical position
- With the support of the hands raise your trunk further up. Place yourself such that the trunk makes 45 degrees with the ground while your legs are vertically raised. At this stage, your body weight rests on the shoulders. Hands and elbows help to support and balance your body.
- In the final pose, your trunk is at 45 degrees with the floor and the legs are 90 degrees with the floor.
- Remain in the same position as per your comfort. If you are looking for health benefits, 3-5 minutes per day is enough. If you are practicing it for spiritual purposes you can extend the practice for up to 15 minutes at a stretch.
- Breathe normally while maintaining the steady raised position.
Note – Alternatively you may sleep on supine position. Bend your legs at the knees such that the heels touch your butts and the feet rest on the floor. Now supporting your lower back with your hands you’re your back and legs in one go. Keep your legs straight. Your trunk and legs are now making 45 and 90 degrees with the floor respectively.
Read – How To Do Pranayama – A Simple Pranayama Technique
- Hold the breath inside.
- Slowly bring down the body to the supine position.
- Perform a counter asana like matsyasana, ushtrasana or supta vajrasana for half the duration of viparita karani gesture.
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- In this variant the wall is used to provide support the raised legs. One or two thickly folded blankets or a firm round bolster is used as a support.
- With practice you may also do without the support.
- Start with your support about 5-6 inches away from the wall. Sit sideways on the right end of the support. Keep your right side against the wall i.e. right shoulder and arms closely touching the wall. Left-handers may do the other way around.
- Exhale and with a single movement swing your legs up onto the wall and your shoulders and head lightly down to the floor. Try to move the support slightly further off the wall and adjust your movements. Then move back closer to the wall.
- The front of your torso should gently arch from the pubis to the top of your shoulders.
- Now bend your knees and press your feet into the wall. Lift your pelvis off the support, a few inches. Tuck the support a little higher up under your pelvis with the help of your hands. Lower your pelvis on to the support yet again.
- Now lift and release the base of your head away from the back of your neck. Lift your sternum towards your chin. Keep a roll made of smooth towel beneath your neck if the cervical spine feels flat.
- Open your shoulder blades away from your spine. Release your hands and arms out to your sides. Let your palms facing up.
- Keep your legs firm, just enough to hold them vertically in place. Release your weight towards the back of the pelvis.
- Look down towards your heart.
- Stay in this pose for 5-15 minutes.
Read – Tips To Enhance Effect Of Mudra, 5 Mudra Groups, Rules Of Hasta Mudra
- Bend your knees and push your feet against the wall. This lifts your pelvis off the support.
- Slowly slide the support to one side with your hands. Lower your pelvis to the floor and turn to the side. Stay on your side for a few breaths and come up to sitting with an exhalation.
Related Video –
Note – you can prefer not sitting on your side close to the wall. You can measure a comfortable distance from the wall for your support. You can sit on the support. Gradually raise your legs on to the wall while sliding your torso and head to the floor or mat.
Related video –
- Setu bandha sarvangasana
- Supta baddha konasana
Follow up poses
Time and duration
Vipareeta Karni for better benefits should be practiced in the early hours of the morning and also on empty stomach. You can also do it 4-6 hours after having a meal.
Read – Jnana Mudra (Gyan or Dhyana Mudra) Posture, Benefits
- During menstruation
- Those having serious eye disorders like glaucoma
- Serious neck and back problems / injuries
- High blood pressure
- Heart problems
- Inflammation of spleen or liver
- Increases the blood flow to the neck region and thyroid glands, good for those having hypothyroidism
- Activates the throat chakra i.e. vishuddha chakra which is associated with thyroid functions and with general health
- Cures piles, hydrocele and certain types of hernia
- Tones up the spine, neck, intestines and other abdominal organs
- Reduces the fat around waist in obese people
- Bestows all the benefits of the head pose and shoulder stand
- Used in kriya yoga as one of the poses for performing spinal breathing
- After six months of practice, the grey hairs and wrinkles become inconspicuous (Hatha Yoga Pradipika), is anti-ageing
- Cures a wide array of disorders like anxiety, arthritis, headache, digestive disorders, insomnia, depression, migraine, respiratory and urinary ailments, varicose veins, premenstrual syndrome etc.
- Invigorates the whole body and regulates glandular activity.
- Lymphatic and venous return is increased. This cures diseases of the veins and swollen legs.
- Relaxes the organs of pelvis and abdomen, improves blood circulation therein.
- Gives stability and strength to the wrists and lower arms.
- It is said to keep the old age and death at bay
- Being a restorative pose, allows the blood circulation to every part of the body
- Provides relaxation to the tired, cramped feet and legs
- Gives a good stretch to the front of your torso, back of the legs and back of the neck, relieves back and neck pain
- Soothes and calms the mind
- Relaxes and energizes the nervous system
- Tones up the reproductive system
Read – Chakra – Kundalini: Introduction, Meaning, Types, Location, Ayurveda View
Effect on the Chakras
This gesture has a balancing effect on all the chakras but it mainly stimulates and energizes the throat chakra.
Impact on doshas and tissues
By seeing the benefits of this gesture it can be inferred that it has a balancing effect on prana vayu, udana vayu and apana vayu. It supports and strengthens all the tissues, mainly the lymph & muscles. It also depletes and destroys the morbid fat tissue.
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