Viparit Karani

This looks like a really passive pose, where you are not doing anything much other than lying down in one place, but it has many amazing benefits. Viparita means “inverted/opposite,” and karani means “action”. This asana is the opposite of constantly being in motion; this is non motion. We begin relaxing and “not doing” in the body and move ultimately to the mind. This invites us to shift, change or invert our opinions that we have formed about our bodies and our capacities and about life in general.

According to research it states that the most effective way to reduce stress is by stimulating the Parasympathetic Nervous System and calming the Sympathetic Nervous System 

The Parasympathetic Nervous System is also known as the “rest and digest” system. This system helps

  • Stimulate digestion
  • Slow down the heart rate
  • Relax your muscles
  • Slow down breathing
  • Calm the functioning of the body

The Sympathetic Nervous System on the other hand, is our “fight or flight” system. During stressful moments, it comes into full play to 

  • Decrease secretions needed for proper digestion 
  • Bring on the adrenaline 
  • Increase the heart beat 
  • Tense up the muscles
  • Increase the pace of breath 

This asana helps to stimulate the Parasympathetic System and helps to restore, renew, relax and heal  the body.

Gheranda Samhita 3.36 says this asana “destroys” old age and death. “You will become adept in all the worlds and will not perish even at world dissolution (pralaya)” 

The many benefits of Viparita Karni:

  • Induces calmness.
    This lower the heart rate and breathing and ,helps lower anxiety, stress and insomnia. The nervous system is soothed, the body can renew and restore its energy. This pose needs to be done daily for several weeks to improve fatigue.
  • Helps  venous drainage and increases circulation.
    Gravity  assists circulation by facilitating the return of blood back to the heart, reducing pressure in the leg veins. Helps heal Venous Disease (e.g., varicose veins)
  • High blood pressure
    The inverted position improves circulation and helps blood return to the heart with minimal effort. The gentle pressure in the throat trigger the relaxation response which lowers blood pressure.
  • Lymphatic drainage & detoxification
    Our cells excrete lymph fluid  which carries toxins and is eliminated by the spleen. There is no pump to move the lymphatic fluids around the body which can cause build up in the lower limbs. This asana speeds up lymphatic drainage and the toxins are flushed out too.
  • Soothes swollen or cramped feet and legs also Restless Leg Syndrome
    Inverting the legs/feet is very effective for reducing swelling and pain in the lower extremities (even the heels, ankles and soles of the feet). This can be therapeutic after taking a flight, after exercise, or running  or after sitting/standing for long periods.
  • Stretches the hamstrings and lower back
    The angle of the body helps relax the lower back into the floor and reduces  the curve of the lumbar spine, this helps stretch the back muscles. The hamstrings are stretched, the closer you place your hips to the wall.
  • Relieves lower back tension
    Pressure is released from the spine in a supine position the curvature of the lumbar is reduced and the legs sink into the back giving a massage to the lower back.
  • Beneficial for Metabolic Syndrome and increases blood flow to:
    – the digestive organs which improve assimilation, digestion, and elimination. Digestion is improved by  this pose as the parasympathetic nervous system is stimulated, the body can rest and digest.
    – the pelvic muscles which helps them naturally relax so it is a very helpful exercise for a hypertonic (tense) pelvic floor. It improves fertility for men and women. It also  relieves menstrual cramps and urinary problems.
    – the abdominal region which helps with menopause  as it directly alleviates hot flushes, anxiety, insomnia and brain fog also due to the calming effects on the nervous system.

Additional benefits of Viparit Karni

In addition, studies have shown that restorative yoga poses (specifically, Legs Up the Wall) can be beneficial for those suffering from the negative effects of:

  • Fibromyalgia (e.g., chronic pain)
  • Cancer


    • High blood pressure
    • Heart disease
    • Glaucoma
    • Chronic leg swelling
    • Neck or back injuries
    • Hernia