When there’s nothing else you can do, get down on the floor and put your legs up the wall. Seriously, it’s magic.
Viparita Karani, fancy yoga talk for lying-on-your-back-with-your-legs-in-the-air-and-resting, is deeply restorative and rejuvenating. It’s also an easy and safe way to reap the many benefits of an inversion such as shoulder-stand or head-stand without worrying about back/neck injuries or strength issues. When I’m on my “ladies holiday” it’s an absolute must for my practice.
Right now, as I’m struggling with some serious owies in my leg due to a misalignment in my knee, this pose has been a pain-relieving godsend! Morning and night – VK is my new best friend!
Turning yourself upside down helps change your perspective on things, literally and metaphorically. I find that mindfully practicing Viparita Karani is even more calming and renewing than a meditation practice or savasana.
You can practice it with a bolster or blankets underneath the lumbar spine, but I normally just lie totally flat with my butt as close to the wall as possible. If accessible, putting a sandbag on the feet is really grounding and sedative (especially for a Vata spaz like me). As soon as I put my legs up the wall, my breath starts to slow down and I feel my body releasing, sinking into the ground.
This mild inversion is known for a wide range of health benefits as well as its anti-aging effects. Old Hindu scriptures claim that Viparita Karani hides wrinkles in addition to banishing old age and death (alluring, right? If you want you can stop reading right now and get to it!). The restorative nature of this posture gets blood flowing to parts of the body that need it, making it good for most any ailment including arthritis, high or low blood pressure, respiratory ailments, and menopause. In my experience, it’s also wonderfully healing for joint pain.
Give it a try. It’s a wonderful yin addition to any yoga practice and is a great way to calm down when you are perhaps too amped-up to just sit down and meditate.