Viparita Karani (Upside Down Pose)

Upside Down Pose
Level: All levels

Viparita = inverted or reversed. Karani = doing or making.

In this pose the blood drains out of the legs and pools in the abdomen, bathing the internal organs. It is also possible to achieve a deep release in the thighs, the hip flexors and the abdominal muscles. It puts the ribcage in an ideal position for basic pranayama. You will need a bolster, blankets and a wall.

Organizing the Pose

    • Fold a sticky mat up in half and place it up against a wall. Fold a blanket up and place it on top.
    • Place the bolster slightly way from the wall to leave room for the buttocks to drape down.
    • If necessary, adjust the height, either by adding a blanket or replacing the bolster with 1-3 folded blankets. The ideal is that the pelvis be horizontal and the trunk and shoulders hang down allowing the chest to open. Adjust the height to your needs. You can also go the other way, with a lower lift under the pelvis, or even with just the legs up the wall and the pelvis flat on the floor.
    • Either come several inches away from the set-up, tuck the head under and roll carefully onto the padding with the legs up the wall; or sidle up to the padding, and swing the legs up the wall. If you cannot have the backs of the legs against the wall without the pelvis tucking up toward the ceiling, or if the legs will not stay up, then move a little further away from the wall as necessary.
    • Roll the shoulders under and lift and open the chest.
    • Rest the backs of the hands on the floor. Hold this position for several minutes.
    • To come out of the pose, either bend the knees and come into Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose) or Sukhasana (Comfortable Pose) up the wall. If in Sukhasana (Comfortable Pose), be sure to change the crossing of the legs and do the other side as well. Rest there for a moment.
    • Press yourself off the padding until the hips rest on the floor. Stay here for a moment.
    • Roll over onto the right side and press yourself up.

Practice Points

    • Soften the thighs and the belly.
    • Soften the ribs, chest and shoulders.
    • Allow the breath to freely fill the upper ribcage.
    • Soften the neck and throat.
    • Soften the face, the eyes and the jaw.