Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, MD, FFARCSI

The term Viparita Karni like other yogasanas is derived from Sanskrit where “Viparita” means “Opposite” or “Inverted” and “Karani” means “doing”. It is counted amongst the inversion yoga poses and is a mild inversion pose. Because, the body is not entirely upside down in this pose.

The term Viparita karani is also associated with the fact that it inverts the actions which the body usually does in its normal state. While in viparita karani the blood is circulated towards the head which helps in flushing the toxins and give your skin a glow. It also helps in relieving stress. Regular practice of Viparita karani or Legs up the wall pose helps in getting a clear face and a glow on the skin as the toxins get flushed from the body. It also helps supplying oxygenated blood to the organs which helps in maintain health of the organs and longevity of a person.

Like other asanas, Viparita karani or Legs up the wall pose yields maximum benefits when it is practiced early in the morning. Early morning is considered best to practice yoga poses as the body is refreshed after a good night’s sleep and the food is digested in the morning. However, if because of some reason, you are not able to practice it in the morning, you can practice this pose at any time during the day. However, make sure that the food is digested, or one must have had food 3-4 hours before the yoga practice.

Steps To Practice Viparita Karani Or Legs Up The Wall Pose

  • To practice Viparita karani or Legs up the wall pose, you must sit down around an open space near the wall. You can sit on the yoga mat or on the floor.
  • Sit in a way that your legs are straight in front of you and the left side of your body touches the wall.
  • If you are practicing the supported version of Viparita karani or Legs up the wall pose, you can sit on the floor against the wall.
  • Gently turn your body to the left and bring your legs up onto the wall. You can use your hands for balance as you shift your weight.
  • Bring your buttocks to touch the wall. In this position your heels will face the ceiling.
  • Lower your back to the floor and remain in this position comfortably.
  • Bring your shoulders and head to rest on the floor.
  • Make sure that you let your arms rest open at your sides, palms facing up.
  • Let the leg muscles relax while maintaining this position while practicing Viparati Karni or Legs up the wall pose.
  • Close your eyes, relax in this position and calm you mind.
  • Keep your head and neck straight and in a neutral position.
  • To use a prop at this point, raise your buttocks and slide a prop beneath the buttocks.
  • Hold this position for a few minutes or for as long as you are comfortable.
  • Always be aware of your breath while practicing Viparita karani or Legs up the wall pose.
  • To release the pose, come back by rolling both legs to any side and lie in Shavasana after the practice.
  • Viparita karani is a restorative yogic inversion which helps in treating many disorders, hence people with back, knee or other problems can use props like yoga strap, yoga blocks or blankets.

Breathing Pattern To Be Followed While Practicing Viparita Karani Or Legs Up The Wall Pose

  • Maintain a constant breath while lying on your back for a few seconds. Inhale and exhale deeply.
  • Inhale deeply while lying with the left side of the body resting against the wall.
  • Exhale deeply while raising the legs towards the wall. Beginners may find it difficult to exhale while rising but will get to it gradually with constant practice.
  • Retain your breath when you are in final pose if you are an advanced practitioner for a few breaths. Beginners can keep breathing normally.
  • Exhale while coming back to the initial position of Viparita karani or Legs up the wall pose.
  • Exhale one more time after coming back to the initial position of Viparita karani or Legs up the wall pose.

Preparatory and Follow Up Poses For Viparita Karani Or Legs Up The Wall Pose

  • Preparatory Poses: The various Preparatory poses for Viparita karani are: Uttanasana or the camel pose, Setu bandasana or the bridge pose, Urdha Mukha Svanasana or The Upward Dog Pose and Urdhva Dhanurasana or the Upward Bow Pose, Gomukhasana or The Cow Faced Pose, Virasana or The Hero Pose, Supta Virasana or Reclined Hero Pose, Bhujangasana or The Cobra Pose.
  • Follow Up Poses: The various Follow-Up poses for Viparita karani are: Sarvangasana or The Shoulder Stand, Padmasana or The Lotus Pose, Marjariasana or The Cat Pose or Cat Stretch, Bhu Namanasana or The Earth Worship Pose

Benefits Of Practicing Viparita Karani Or Legs Up The Wall Pose

  • Viparita karani or legs up the wall is the pose with maximum benefits. It invigorates the entire body.
  • This pose massages the abdominal organs and stimulates the digestive system which in return improves digestion
  • Viparita karani or Legs up the wall pose is beneficial in enhancing the circulation of blood throughout the body thereby flushing out the excess toxins from the body.
  • It makes one feel refreshed when practiced regularly.
  • One of the benefits of Viparita karani is that it helps in getting rid of acid reflux when practiced regularly.
  • The arms, thighs, shoulders, legs, calf muscles, and hips are strengthened with regular practice of this pose.
  • It also helps in strengthening the core muscles of the body.
  • Your hamstrings will also tone and strengthen with regular practice of this pose.
  • It also helps in improving the posture of the body.
  • It regulates metabolism and helps you lose weight when practiced regularly.
  • It helps in balancing the mind, increases the power of concentration, and induces physical and mental relaxation quickly. The thinking process becomes very clear and precise with regular practice of this pose.
  • It also helps in getting rid of stress and mild depression.
  • Viparita karani or legs up the wall also help in reducing ailments of the respiratory system as it helps in increasing the lung capacity of your body when it is practiced with proper breathing techniques.
  • Viparita karani or legs up the wall is a full body energizer and revitalize and it improves your concentration.
  • It helps and tones your hips and hamstrings.
  • It is also helpful in lengthening the spine and opening up the chest.
  • Viparita karani or legs up the wall is specifically recommended for relieving the lower back pain and helps in getting rid of Sciatica.

Precautions And Contraindications While Practicing Viparita Karani Or Legs Up The Wall Pose

  • Viparita karani or legs up the wall puts a lot of stress on the hip joints, glutes and knee and should be done with care and the person should not get hurt while practicing. Beginners should be extra careful while practicing this pose and can use props.
  • It might be a difficult and challenging pose to practice for beginners with tight glutes and hamstrings and should not be performed if there is any major difficulty observed by individuals while practicing the asanas.
  • People with injured or weak knees should not practice Viparita karani or Legs up the wall pose as a lot of stress is put on the knees.
  • People with back ache and sciatica should practice Viparita karani or legs up the wall pose very carefully.
  • You should also avoid practicing this pose if you have an injury in your shoulder.
  • Get out of the pose or release the pose if you feel a sudden sharp and shooting pain in your legs.
  • If you have any doubts about your condition, consult a physician before practicing this pose and always practice asana under the supervision of a trained yoga expert.
  • Do not over exert yourself while practicing Viparita karani or legs up the wall pose. Do not push yourself beyond the limits. Go only as far as your body allows.
  • This pose should not be practiced if you have frequent headaches and migraine.
  • You should also not perform this pose if you have any chronic spinal or neck problems.
  • Pregnant women should also not practice this pose as this is a mild inversion.
  • People suffering from peptic ulcer, hernia, intestinal tuberculosis and other such conditions are also advised not to practice this pose.
  • People with neck injury are advised to look straight and keep the head in a neutral position while practicing this asana.
  • Viparita karani or legs up the wall pose should not be performed if you have any injury or pain in the legs or ankle.

Tips While Practicing Viparita Karani Or Legs Up The Wall Pose

If you are not able to keep your head in a neutral position while practicing Viparita karani or legs up the wall, you can put a sheet or blanket below your head to support it. Stay in the final Viparita karani or legs up the wall pose for as long as you can because your body will benefit more from the holding capacity of your body will increase. You will start feeling that you must put efforts while holding the pose for 20 seconds; you can increase the holding capacity with constant practice.

  • Beginners can start by just lifting their legs while keeping their upper body on the ground. You may also use your hands for additional support.
  • For people who feel any difficulty while practicing Viparita karani or legs up the wall can use various yoga props available.
  • For more back strengthening and a greater challenge to your flexibility, extend your arms out to the sides and upward, as if you are spreading and lifting a pair of wings.
  • Keep your focus on the length of your spine. Evenly distribute the stretch across your upper, middle, and lower back while keeping the torso raised in Viparita karani or legs up the wall pose, go only as far as you can. You no stretch yourself while raising your body as it does not matter how high you go up. If practiced improperly it can strain your back or neck and cause injury.
  • While practicing Viparita karani or legs up the wall pose, if you have enough space, you can spread your legs wide against the wall in a wide angle in such a way that the legs are parallel to the floor. This will increase the strength and stretch in the groin and the thighs.
  • Advanced practitioners can also increase the stretch by bending the knees and touching the soles together like in Baddha konsana or the butterfly pose. This will help in opening the hips as well.
  • Advanced practitioners can also slide the outer edges of the feet down and bring the heels closer to your pelvis to increase the stretch like the final position of baddha konasana.
  • One can also take the hands and place against the top of the inner thighs to increase the stretch in the groin and hamstrings.

Also Watch:

Pramod Kerkar

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD,FFARCSI

Pain Assist Inc.

Last Modified On: December 4, 2018

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer

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