Viparita Karani (Sanskrit: विपरीतकरणी; IAST: viparītakaraṇī) or legs up the wall pose is considered either as an asana or a mudra in haṭha yoga. In modern yoga, it is commonly a fully supported pose using a wall and sometimes a pile of blankets.
Etymology and origins
The name comes from the Sanskrit words viparita meaning "inverted" or "reversed", and karani meaning "a particular type of practice".
The pose was practised from the 17th century onwards in hatha yoga, though known by various names such as narakasana, kapalasana and viparitakaranasana; its purpose was to reverse the downflow and loss of the life-giving substance (amrita) through the use of gravity.
Viparita Karani can be any practice where one is upside down. This can include the asanas of shoulder stand (sarvangasana), headstand (sirsasana), or handstand (adho mukha vrksasana). In the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, as in most classical texts on haṭha yoga, viparita karani is listed as a mudra, meaning its purpose is for the directing of energy or kundalini upwards within the body, as opposed to asanas which are used in the Hatha Yoga Pradipika to create steadiness.
In one popular expression of viparita karani as an asana in modern postural yoga, it resembles Salamba Sarvāngāsana (supported shoulder stand) but with flexion in the thoracic spine (rather than the cervical spine, elbows on the floor and hands supporting hips or lower back. In Iyengar Yoga, the pose is described as "a restful practice, where the body is inverted without effort", and the lower back and buttocks are supported with a pile of blankets, while the legs are rested against a wall.
Variations include bringing the soles of the feet together as in Baddha Konasana, or letting the legs fall outward into a straddle.
- YJ Editors (28 August 2007). "Legs-Up-the-Wall Pose". Yoga Journal.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
- Mehta 1990, p. 122.
- Mallinson 2017, p. 90.
- Hatha Yoga Pradipika III.7
- Hatha Yoga Pradipika III.5
- Hatha Yoga Pradipika I.19
- "Viparita Karani Mudra (Upside Down Seal)". Yoga Art and Science. Retrieved 21 August 2012.
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