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How to Practice Viparita Karani and its Advanced Variations?

PS is practicing yoga since the age of 11. Her yoga retreats in India have helped her gain deep insights into self-awareness.

Viparita Karani

Viparita Karani

Viparita Karani, also known as Kapalasana, Narakasana, and Viparitakaranasana, is an inverted pose that dates back to the 17th century.

Yogi Ramanandi Jayatarama mentioned the asana in his hatha yoga text Joga Pradipika as a major exercise to maintain the health of your physical body. He also says that between liberation and physical health, a person must give priority to their physical health and maintain their strength through the asanas and mantras mentioned in his text. Joga Pradipika is also called ‘A Small Light on Yoga’.

Viparita Karani is mainly focused on the flow of kundalini energy in an upward direction. Due to this it is often called mudra rather than asana. An asana is more about creating steadiness. It has many variations that equally classify as mudras as well as asanas.

Why you should practice Viparita Karani?

As I already mentioned, Viparita Karani’s major benefit is the flow of kundalini energy. Besides this, this yoga pose has the following more benefits:

  1. Aides digestive organs
  2. Prevents migraine and anxiety
  3. Cures respiratory ailments
  4. Prevents urinary disorders
  5. Prevents menstrual cramps
  6. Cures high and low blood pressure
  7. Relieve pain from arthritis
  8. Awakens kundalini
  9. Relaxes cramped muscles
  10. Stretches neck and legs
  11. Initiates deep meditation
  12. Boosts lung capacity
  13. Reduces waist fat
  14. Improves sleep disorder
Viparita Karani

Viparita Karani

How to practice Viparita Karani?

It is recommended to start with basic yoga poses, then start with Viparita Karani, also called Legs up the Wall Pose. Here is the step-by-step guide:

Note: Viparita Karani is actually performed without any wall support. But it is recommended for newbies should rely on the support to prevent any mishaps and achieve a fine balance.

  1. Lie down beside a wall with your shoulder and hip against the wall
  2. Lower your torso down and lift the legs up against the wall
  3. Adjust your distance from the wall as per your comfort level
  4. Place a folded blanket or pillow to prevent any problem in your back or hamstrings
  5. Allow your head to rest on the mat
  6. Stay in the pose for at least a minute or 10
  7. Lift your hips slightly and push your feet into the wall to release the pose

How to practice Viparita Karani?


You should not practice this pose under the following conditions:

  1. Menstruation
  2. Neck or back problems
  3. Eye problems such as glaucoma
  4. If you are new to this yoga pose, take the support of the wall and pillow to achieve the right alignment

Variations in Viparita Karani

Viparita Karani is a mild yoga pose. It can be practiced in advanced postures as well under different names:

1. Sarvangasana

  • Sarvangasana is an advanced yoga pose and not recommend for trainees with high blood pressure.
  • The asana is also called as Shoulder-stand. As the name suggests, your whole body is lifted upwards with your shoulders' support.
  • Your shoulders should be supported with a cushion or folded blanket and hands should rest on your back.
  • Lift up your legs, buttocks, and back till it’s in perfect inverted alignment.
  • Your weight is balanced by your shoulders and upper arms.
  • Keep your legs firm and high.
  • Keep breathing and stay in the pose for 30 to 60 seconds.
  • If you feel neck strain, then release the posture instantly.
  • To release the pose, bend the knees to your forehead and place the hands on the floor. Then bring your spine down, lower the legs and relax for a while in savasana (corpse pose).
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2. Sirsasana

  • Sirsasana is a headstand pose. As the name suggests, you need to stand inverted using your head as the base.
  • Spread your elbows, place the forearms on the floor and interlock your fingers. Your elbows should be placed in the form of an equilateral triangle.
  • Place your head in the space between your interlocked palms.
  • Press your hands against your head to maintain a firm grip.
  • Raise your buttocks high such that your legs are completely straight.
  • Walk a few steps towards your head as much as you can, but don’t strain
  • Bend your knees and tuck your knees in your abdomen
  • Shift the weight of your body solely to head and arms
  • Maintain the balance
  • Lift one foot off the floor than the other
  • Place them in the vertical position.
  • Your body must be straight
  • Hold the position as long as you feel comfortable
  • To release the pose, slowly reverse the steps and relax in savasana for a while


3. Adho Mukha Vrksasana

  • Adho Mukha Vrksasana is the most advanced of all.
  • It is also called a handstand. As the name suggests, your body’s weight is balanced using your hands in the inverted pose.
  • This form is a part of gymnastics as well as breakdance.
  • Place the palms on the mat and take a deep breath
  • Raise the body upwards and exhale
  • Place the foot on the floor and take the body on the palms and the feet
  • Keep your palms at a shoulder-width apart and press the mat from your shoulders using your palms
  • Your pose is right if your shoulders move near your ears. Now, shift your weight upward. Make sure to grip the mat with your fingertips
  • Keep a fixed gaze between your palms. Now, inhale and move your one leg up
  • Balance your weight with one leg up, then move the other one
  • Maintaining the straight line is very important
  • Stay in the pose as long as you feel comfortable
  • To release the pose, slowly drop your legs down, one at a time and relax in savasana for a while.

Adho Mukha Vrksasana

Viparita Karani and the Throat Chakra

From Viparita Karani to its variations, there’s an intense pressure put on your neck. Your neck receives flexibility and huge blood flow. This enormous energy helps you activate your throat chakra. This is possible only with your regular practice and perfect balance.

Viparita Karani, especially its variation, is an advanced pose and it is recommended to practice it under supervision. A slight imbalance can result in severe injuries. Also, if you are suffering from high blood pressure, glaucoma or going through a menstrual period, then avoid this yoga exercise.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Prachi Sharma


Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on April 07, 2020:

Great advice. My best leader once laughed with me "Eric you are worthless at this. So act like it and TAKE IT EASY." That fun way he said it taught me the lesson well.

Thanks for the reminder about breathing properly.

Prachi Sharma (author) from Seattle, WA on April 07, 2020:

Hi Eric, thanks for pointing out the line. It's certainly a little confusing. I've removed the starting word and made it generic now. You know a definite gap between inhale and exhale is required to get the perfect pose. It also depends on the yogi's strength and experience with the exercise.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on April 07, 2020:

I think I can do the Viparita Karani against the wall. But you have me confused about entering the pose "Exhale and lie down beside a wall with your shoulder and hip against the wall"


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