This posture is putting the legs up against the wall, and is a very gentle way to do an inversion. It brings blood to the head and heart; and it can be practiced by those who are not inverting (such as those with high blood pressure or those on their menstural cycle.)
As a mild inversion, Viparita Karani can have many of the same benefits of a full inversion. However, it is gentler than the other yoga inversions. This pose has a variety of benfits ranging from physical to emotional. Here are a few of the benefits that this pose is believed to have:
- Improves circulation as it sends blood and nourishment to the pelvis, heart and head.
- Improves brain function. As increase in blood flow to the brain brings an increase in oxygen. Like other organs, blood flow and oxygen help to revitalize and nourish the brain.
- Helps to stretch the back of the legs, the buttocks and the hips.
- Helps to open the chest (especially true when practiced with a bolster under the hips and middle back.) For some, this openess in the chest can have a positive impact on opening the lungs and sinuses.
- Calms the mind. As this pose can be practiced like a restorative resting pose, it helps to pull the senses inward. The brain and mind start to relax as thoughts start to slow down. When the mind is calmer, the body has an opportunity to heal.
- Stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system.
How to practice
- Use a yoga bolster or fold and stack 2-3 thick blankets, creating a support that is 6 inches high and long enough to prop your hips and lower back.
- Place the blankets or bolster (length is parallel to wall) a few inches away from the wall.
- Curl your legs into the chest and turn onto your left side. Use your left arm as a support, and then roll onto your right hip while sweeping your legs up against the wall.
- Allow for the tailbone to dip into the space between the bolster and the wall. This can help to relieve the hips and groin.
- Place your back and hips on the blanket. Your body should be in a straight line from navel to top of head and it should be perpendicular to the wall. The bolster or blankets should be supporting from the top of your tailbone all the way to your mid-back.
- your shoulder blades do not need to be on the blanets but should be resting comfortably on the floor.
- Try to keep your legs straight and aim to have the back of your thighs lying against the wall. To do this, try climbing each leg up the wall to get your hips closer to the wall. (If this is a problem for your hamstrings, slide your support away from the way and make sure there is a gap between your thighs and the wall.)
- Place an eyebag over your eyes and begin to breath. Allow your breath to relax your body as you settle into the position.
- Stay here for anywhere from 3-20 miuntes, or as long as it feels good. Just remember to continue to breath into your lower belly, and to allow your body- joints and muscles to open into the posture.
- To get out of the posture, bring your knees into your chest and roll over to one side. Let the whole body roll with you. You do not want to twist out of the posture. Once you roll onto your side, push the bolster away and come up.
- If you are on the first few days of your menstrual cycle, you can practice this pose without the additional lift of the bolster or blankets. Simply place an opened blanket directly on your mat and under your entire body, so there is cushion for the hips and spine.
- If you have high blood pressure, check with your doctor before practicing any inversion. This one is generally acceptable for those with high blood pressure.
- It is not recommended to practice this pose if you have glaucoma.
- If you are working with any injuries, work with an experienced yoga teacher when first coming into this pose. Getting in and out of the pose can be tricky.