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Yoga: What is Viparita Karani?

Updated on October 9, 2014

A Little About the History of Yoga Exercise:

According to archaeologists, Yoga exercise has been around since 3000 B.C. While researching, stones revealed Yoga positions that date around that era. Then there are also some critics that date Yoga all the way back to the stone age era. There have been claims that Yoga and Shamanism have a lot in common. Well they very well may have. Shamanism is a form of going into the spiritual realm. They chant and have out of body experiences. Not to mention, they also use animals as messengers. This sounds like a form of witchcraft.

How Do I Go About Doing the Viparita Karani?

They also call this the 'legs up the wall position'. Depending on your height you will want to put a pillow in a diagonal position. It also depends on whether or not you are more flexible. If you are the type that is flexible, then the pillow can be placed further away from the wall. If you are the stiff type, you will want to move it closer to the wall. You can always try different pillow positions.

After you have determined the distance of the pillow it is now time to get into position for the exercise. You may want to (or it is recommended) that you position the support pillow about 6 inches away from the wall. Start by sitting on the right side of the support (if you are right handed), then while you exhale, swing your legs up the wall, then rest the rest of your body gently on your Yoga mat. There may be a few times that you sit a little too hard and this may cause you to plop down. That is ok, just adjust the support in a better position.

Make sure that your bottom is between the support and the wall. It does not necessarily need to be right up against the wall at all. Your torso should go at an angle between your shoulders and the support pillow. Sometimes when getting into position you will notice that your torso is at more of a straighter position. If this happens you need to readjust your position all together. The way to do this is to flatten your feet on the wall and with your leg and thigh muscles lift your pelvis off of the mat and adjust your support. Then you can lower your pelvis back onto the support pillow.

From this position, you will want to lift the base of your skull away from your neck and in this process, soften your neck area. Then you will want to take a rolled hand towel and place it under your neck. Only do this if it feels as though your spine feels flat. You will feel that your shoulders and separating from the spine. Move your hands out and away from the sides with your palms upwards.

You will want to keep your legs stiff like just enough to keep them in position. Release the tension of your extremities such as your belly weight and thigh bones. Let the weight fall to the back of the pelvis. Allow your eyes to relax and look down towards your body.

It is recommended that you hold this position anywhere from 5-15 minutes. This is entirely up to you. The best way to release yourself from this position is to bend your knees and then you may push your feet against the wall in order to lift your pelvis off the support pillow. Once this is accomplished, you can remove the support from under you. Turn to one side and stay there allowing yourself to breath before coming up.

There are many forms of Yoga. It is in what you feel the most comfortable in doing. There are most certainly precautions that you need to take while you are performing any of these Yoga positions.

It is highly recommended to make sure that you are under the supervision of a teacher or a trainer while you are performing these Yoga positions. It takes practice and in order to get the best out of it, you must know exactly what you are doing.


The Health Benefits of Viparita Karani

There are also internal health benefits from this particular position. The gluteus muscles, quadriceps and hamstrings are all responsible for pushing large amounts of blood through. While performing this form of Yoga, you are enabling your body to do just that. What it ultimately does is relax your muscles and the strain on them as well.

There are also alternative ways to fulfill the position and that is to remove to pillow support. This is totally up to you and it will make a difference in how it feels. What it means to follow this position is the promotion of loving kindness.

It is good that you feel that the sacrum flatten so that it is easier for you to breath. You want to make sure that you are breathing freely and easily. Make sure that your hands remain in an open position to remind you that your heart must be open. While you are breathing, you need to remember to keep it steady. You need to also make sure that your can take in deeper breaths as well.

There are things that you should remember when you are a beginner at Yoga. Be sure that you are apt to learn and follow rules and the precise position that your trainer shows you. There are many positions and according to what you want to accomplish for your own well being, your trainer will know exactly what to do in that area.

Because there are so many positions, you need to be sure that they understand what you want to accomplish, so that you can be taught and eventually master the position. It is about coming in tune with your own body and capabilities. It is also a way to learn obedience and self discipline as well. Learning Yoga takes patience, time, endurance and focus. This is an ancient exercise showing the modern world to become in tuned with them self.


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  • Katrina Ariel profile image

    Katrina Ariel 8 years ago from The Highlands of British Columbia, Canada

    Viparita Kanari is a wonderful position to calm the body. I've had students use it before bed and tell me they have excellent sleeps! It's a great one to use when you're tired, emotionally, physically, or mentally.

    I think it's important for people to realize that this is a modified form of shoulder stand, and that the alignment of the neck is important. There shouldn't be any vertibre on the floor, and the natural cervical curve (curve in the neck) should be maintained. Keeping that in mind helps the body receive the highest benefit with the lower risk.

    Great hub!

  • countrywomen profile image

    countrywomen 9 years ago from Washington, USA

    Nice asana. Hope I put this hub into practice....