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How to practice Viparita Karani

How to practice Viparita Karani

What is the legs-up-on-the-wall pose?

Legs-up-on-the-wall pose or Viparita Karani is a restorative yoga posture that can be practiced on its own or as part of a cooldown routine. It is very relaxing and distresses the mind and body, and encourages blood circulation back up from the legs. The posture is particularly helpful in relieving tired legs or leg pain. 

Position type: Supine 

Posture type: Restorative 

Ideal for: Relaxing 

Targets: Legs and back

Pose level: Beginner

How to prepare for the legs-up-on-the-wall pose? 

A relaxing and restorative posture, legs-up-on-the-wall pose does not require any preparation. It can be practiced at the beginning or end of a yoga session. You can also practice Viparita Karani on its own after a long day before going to bed. If you have tired legs or a stiff back, you can practice Viparita Karani to relax and relieve the tension. 

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How to do Viparita Karani?

Getting into the posture

  • Start by lying down on your mat or bed with your buttocks close to the wall. Raise your legs up against the wall. 
  • You may place a cushion, folded blanket, or bolster under your hips. This requires more flexibility, as does placing your hips closer to the wall. Adjust your position to find what is comfortable for you. You may use a cushion or folded blanket under your head and neck.
  • Relax completely in the posture and draw your attention inwards. This way you are slowly beginning to experience Pratyahara (withdrawal). 
  • Keep your hands in a comfortable position, either by the side of your body or above the head. 
  • Stay here for as long as you like. 

Getting out of the posture

  • To come out of the posture, gently bring your legs down and then slowly turn to your side and sit up. Do this slowly as you might experience a little stiffness after holding this position for a long time. 

What are the benefits of Viparita Karani? 

Viparita Karani is a passive inverted posture that allows you to completely let go and melt into the floor. It encourages you to let go of stress, anxiety and tension. It relieves leg pain and swelling from the legs and feet, especially after a long day, hectic travel or a medical condition. It relaxes the mind, relieves headaches and migraines and increases energy. It provides relief from sciatica pain, alleviates lower back pain and discomfort and relieves cramps. It also stretches the hamstrings and glutes. The posture also improves thyroid function. Vipartia Karani is particularly helpful for those with varicose veins as it encourages blood flow in the calves. It improves the quality of sleep too. It activates the parasympathetic nervous system, completely relaxing the mind and body. 

What are the contraindications of Vipartia Karani?

Legs-up-on-the-wall pose is generally safe for all. For those with hypertension or other health conditions where blood rushing to the upper part of the body or head is not advisable, it is best to avoid the post. 

After holding the pose for a long time you may feel a tingling sensation in your legs and feet and stiffness in your back. If this happens, gently come out of the pose and move the legs very slowly. 

Counter poses for Viparita Karani

There are no counter poses necessary as this is a relaxing posture. However, if you feel like your legs have fallen asleep, you can simply bend your knees into your chest before returning to the pose. Or you can shake your legs to stimulate circulation.

Variations of Vipartia Karani 

Advanced variations of Vipartia Karani: 

Butterfly legs

Place the soles of your feet together in a Butterfly Pose. Bend your knees and allow your feet to come toward your hips. To deepen the stretch, gently press your hands into your thighs.

Wide legs

You can allow your feet to open to the sides in a wide-legged position. You’ll feel this stretch in your hips and inner thighs.

Advice for beginners 

This is an easy to do posture that allows you to go inward. Focus on your breath by taking slow, deep breaths and relaxing completely. You can also try Ujjayi or Oceans breathing to induce a deep and calming effect. 

Shvasa tips for Viparati Karani

  • When coming out of the posture, be slow and gentle. If you are experiencing stiffness or tingling sensations, move only one part at a time, like one leg first and then the other slowly follows. 
  • Since this is a therapeutic posture, you can practice this any time. Even a few minutes before going to bed is very relaxing. 
  • Remember to relax, let go and have fun with the practice.

This posture is often used in yoga therapy by many experienced teachers. To practice regularly we suggest joining a live yoga class with a certified teacher who will guide you through the benefits and variations effectively. 

How to practice Viparita Karani
Shvasa Editorial Team

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