Viparita Karani

Names

Viparita Karani, legs-Up-the-Wall Pose, Inverted Leg Posture, Inverted Action Pose

Viparita is the Sanskrit word for “inverted” while Karani means “doing” or “making” but also can be understood as “which makes you do”. Viparita Karani thus means “the posture which makes you inverted”.

Viparita Karani is known as a Mudra. There are ten Mudras explained in Yogic scripture and Viparita Karani is one of them.

How to perform Viparita Karani

To perform this posture, lay down in Supta Samasthiti with your body straight, your feet together and the knees straight. Now lift both legs up to 90 degrees so that the soles of the feet point to the ceiling.


Now you lift your pelvis half up and support it with your hands. You do not lift it straight up as in Sarvangasana, the shoulder stand. You could say you are now in ‘Ardha Sarvangasana’, the half shoulder stand.


If you are practiced in this exercise, you can place your hands down on the floor with your palms flat to the ground.

Additional Note for Viparita Karani

It is not recommended using blocks, cushions or blankets under the pelvis and to lean your legs against a wall. This is only an option if you have physical difficulties with this posture and don’t have the strength to lift your pelvis up.


This is how the name ‘Legs-up-the-Wall-Pose’, as it is given here is not actually accurate or correct for Viparita Karani. In a variation for people who cannot go into the original pose, this name may fit but the original pose is not against the wall.


Those who would like to read about its origin in the scriptures and confirm this statement can read it in:
Gherand Samhita, chapter 3, shlokas 34-36 and
Hatha yoga Pradipika, chapter 3, shlokas 78-82 and
Shiva Samhita, chapter 4, shlokas 44-45

Benefits of Viparita Karani

As you lift your lower part up in this yoga pose, you work with your abdominal organs and the movement stimulates them. Through this, Viparita Karani stimulates your digestion and is good against constipation and other digestive problems. Additionally you increase your appetite through this stimulation.


Your urinary system also benefits from this movement as do women’s reproductive organs. With regular practice of this exercise, women can thus avoid menstrual cramps and problems of the premenstrual syndrome as well as the menopause.


As this yoga pose is an inversion, the blood circulation is stimulated and your upper body and head receives a stronger blood flow which supplies the whole area with oxygen. Through this, migraines and headaches, caused by poor blood circulation, can be healed and prevented.


Pimples, boils and acne problems also are reduced by this increase of blood flow. Additionally it is said that such inverted poses are good against losing hair and getting gray hair.


Of course this all makes it also a great exercise for anybody who wants to prevent or deal with high or low blood pressure. Blood and other body fluids stuck in the legs and causing swelling, get into movement again and thus the swelling will reduce. Whoever easily gets cramps in legs and feet can also try this yoga pose as a cure.


As far as your muscles are concerned, this yoga asana strengthens your arms and legs but also your back and your neck muscles.


Through the bending of your neck, your throat and chest are squeezed together and when you come out of the pose, they can unfold with your next deep breath. In this way you help your respiratory system to open to its full extent. The pressure is also said to help men who are suffering from goiter.


You move your joints and keep them active in a rather gentle motion which is good against arthritis.


Through the additional blood flow in your head, you get more oxygen which is beneficial for very problems like insomnia but which also lifts your spirits and helps against depression and anxiety.


This pose is also recommended if you want to clean your stomach, as it makes the water move faster from the small intestines to the large intestines. This is how this exercise is sometimes performed to support the Kriya Shankha Prakshalana.

Focus Points

You should not focus on bringing your legs further up, as you are not doing the shoulder stand. Instead focus on the bend in your back, feel your abdominal area and the work there and hold your pelvis.

When to Avoid Viparita Karani

You should not perform Viparita Karani, if you are suffering from neck or back injuries or previously had surgery of the back or neck.


If you have eye problems that could react in any way to the additional blood circulation, you should consult your doctor before practicing this yoga pose.


As always, be careful in the pose and only go until the limits of your body, never cross them.

Utkatasana II – Chair Pose

Names

Utkatasana II, Chair Pose

Utkat is the Sanskrit word for raised or lifted. It is thus the lifting or rairing pose.
There is another version of Utkatasana in which you squat on your toes and place your buttocks onto your heels. This however is sitting on a chair without a chair.

How to perform Utkatasana II

Stand in Samasthiti, bend your knees and sit down as if you would sit on a chair. Keep your spine straight and do not let your knees go in front of your toes. You can raise your arms straight out in front of you or bring your palms together above your head.

Variation for Partner yoga

You can also do this exercise together with a partner. Stand in front of each other, hold each other’s hands and slowly sit down, holding each other’s weight with the stretched arms.

Benefits of Utkatasana II

Just try this exercise and repeat it a few times or hold it as long as you can and you will know exactly where it works. Your thigh muscles, buttocks and calves are working and get nicely toned through that. You will notice that after a while of regular practice, your legs will lose all extra thigh fat and get into a really nice shape.


Your back muscles also benefit and through your effort to keep yourself straight, this exercise is very good for your spine, too.


With this exercise you additionally strengthen your heart and lungs and improve your breathing power.


Provided you go into the right position, it is very good for your knee joints and it helps you to balance your body weight.


This is one of the poses always recommended to athletes and sportsmen and women.

Focus Points

Do not focus on your arm position. Your arms are used merely for balancing your body weight.
Instead you should focus on keeping your back straight and keeping your knees above or behind your toes.

Tips and Help

Beginners and people with weak knee joints can practice this pose against the wall.

When to avoid the Chair Pose

If you had or have an injury of your back, knees, hips or ankles, you should consult your doctor before performing this exercise. If you suffer from acute headache, heart problems or high blood pressure, please avoid this pose.

Udarakarshanasana

Names

Udarakarshanasana, Janu Padasana, Abdominal Stretch

How to perform Udarakarshanasana

Sit on your heels with your hands on your knees in Utkatasana . With exhalation turn your hip so that your right knee comes down to your left foot. Go back into the starting position with inhalation and then turn your hip again that your left knee comes to your right foot. Repeat this movement ten times for each side.

Benefits of Udarakarshanasana

Udarakarshanasana is good for toes, ankles, knee joints and legs. You turn the joints and move them so that they remain flexible.


Apart from the acupressure points that are activated through the sitting position on the heels, this yoga exercises creates a movement of the bowels which helps the complete digestive system. Your stomach and your intestines are stimulated and if you practice Udarakarshanasana regularly, you hardly run a risk of suffering from constipation.

Perform this posture after drinking water and the effect will be even better. This posture pushes the water down your body and stimulates Apana Vayu, the air in your intestines, so that a pressure is created that will make you go to toilet.


Your bladder, urinary tract and also your liver are stimulated to work properly through this pose. If you suffer from urinary incontinence or urinary retention this yoga posture can help to relieve the symptoms.


It is also one of the exercises used for Shankha Prakshalana which is a yogic method for cleaning the intestines.

Tips and Help

Make sure you have your weight on your toes and wear lose clothes so that there is no pressure on your belly.


Regulate the movement with your breathing to get a proper effect from the posture.
If you wish for a relieving effect, drink warm to hot water before performing the yoga posture and make sure you are close to a toilet. It usually always works!

Supta Vajrasana

Names

Supta Vajrasana, Fixed Firm Pose, Reclining Adamant Pose, Pelvic Posture

How to perform Supta Vajrasana

Sit on your heels in Vajrasana. Lean back and gently place your elbows on the floor behind you. Now slowly lie back while being in Vajrasana so that your knees are still bending and your upper back lies on the floor. To come out of this posture lean your body on the left side and slowly come up.


To make this position more advanced you can combine it with Matsyasana by placing the top of your head on the floor and bringing your arms in front of your chest in namaste pose or by placing them straight over your head on the floor.


For an easier version of this position you can slide your feet next to your buttocks and place your hands next to your body or under your back.

Benefits of Supta Vajrasana

Supta Vajrasana stretches and strengthens the thigh muscles, abdominal muscles, makes your knees, spine and ankles more flexible and gives your calves and thighs a nice shape.
This pose is helpful with many problems like constipation, sciatica, gout, varicose veins, diaphragm, colitis, thrombosis and rheumatism.


You should practice Supta Vajrasana when you have lower and middle back pain as it gives a beneficial stretch to your back and also your hips.


It stretches and stimulates the internal organs especially the pelvic organs like pancreas, liver and kidneys.


This pose it especially beneficial for women because the stretch and the stimulation of the pelvic region has a good effect on the ovaries and fallopian tubes which prevents und cures menstruation pain, reduces the complications of pregnancy and constipation during pregnancy and it makes it easier to give birth to the child.

Tips and Help

Beginners should always use a pillow or a blanket under their back.
Pregnant women should also use a folded blanket or pillow under their hips and back and should open their knees wide.

When to Avoid Supta Vajrasana

Avoid this yoga posture when you are suffering from torn ligaments, knee injuries or an injured meniscus.

Parsvottanasana – Intense Side Stretch Pose

Names

Parsvottanasana, Intense Side Stretch Pose

How to perform Parsvottasana

Stand in Samasthiti and check from which nostril you are breathing, inhale deeply and bring your palms to your back with the hands in namaste position. Exhale.


With the next inhalation you bring the leg of your active side about a meter to the front. When you exhale, you bend forward towards your leg which is in front and rest your body on that leg. Keep your back as straight as possible and stretch your legs so that they are straight, too.


Stay in this position for 20 to 30 seconds and with inhalation come up again.
Repeat the exercise from the other side.

If you cannot bring your arms to your back in namaste pose, you can also interlace your fingers and bring your straight arms up while bending forward. They will pull your upper body further down.

Benefits of Parsvottasana

This yoga pose relieves stiffness from your legs, hips, shoulders and wrists. It brings flexibility and makes your spine feel moving smoothly again.


Through this, it is a good exercise for your joints, to prevent arthritis and to cure the pain of arthritis in the joints.


It is like a half-inverted pose, with your head hanging down and thus your blood flow into the head is increased. You get more oxygen in the head, can concentrate better and are more awake.

You practice your breathing with the pose and this close attention on your lungs and on your inside reduces stress as well as lets your lungs expand further.


Through the pressure on your intestines, you stimulate your liver and spleen as well as your digestive system.

For women this pose can relieve menstruation pain if performed regularly.

Focus Points

Your first intention is to bring your upper body to lie on your leg. If you cannot place your upper body on your leg yet, you can work on it. With inhalation, you stretch your upper body further down and with exhalation you bring it closer to your leg.


Take care however to keep your feet flat on the floor.

Tips and Help

If you have difficulty in bringing your hands into your back in Namaste position, you can also let your hands hang down or grab your leg.

When to Avoid this Parsvottanasana

Do not perform this pose if you are suffering from back pain or slip disk or have an injury or surgery of the spine. Also avoid this yoga pose if you have high blood pressure, abdominal hernia and diarrhea or dysentery.

Pada Namaskar Asana

Names

Pada Namaskar Asana, Padangushtha Chalan

How to perform Pada Namaskar Asana

Sit in the Dandasana with your knees straight. Now bring your toes together so that it looks like you say Namaste with your fee. Now the soles of your feet are facing each other.

From this point you flex out your feet in the other driection. Repeat this 15 to 20 times.

Benefits of Pada Namaskar Asana

Pada Namaskar Asana is a very beneficial exercise for your inner thighs, inner calves and side knee muscles. It brings flexibility to your toes and ankles which helps preventing your ankles from of spraining or twisting. Your joints remain active and movement in all directions is practiced when you do this yoga pose.


It is one of those exercises that you can do even when you are at work – your co-workers won’t even notice your workout!

Focus Points

Your knees should remain straight throughout the exercise; otherwise you lose the effect for your calves and thighs.

Tips and Help

If you already suffer from ankle injuries or have pain, do not go to the extreme but do the yoga exercise slowly and until the point where it is still comfortable.
 

Modak Kriya – Laddu Gesture

Names

Modak Kriya, Laddu Gesture

How to perform Modak Kriya

Stand straight with your shoulders relaxed. Stretch your hands to the front with your elbows straight. Open and close your fists one time with your thumbs inside and one time with your thumbs outside of the other fingers.


Count how many times you open and close your fists.


In the next step you stretch your hands to your sides and repeat the same exercise and count so that you have done it in an equal amount to the front and to the side.

Benefits of Laddu Gesture

This yoga pose obviously strengthens your complete arms which you will feel soon after starting the exercise. It makes the muscles of your hands, wrists, arms, shoulders, neck and upper back strong.


It makes your blood circulate strongly and thus helps to regulate your blood pressure to a normal level.

Focus Points

Don’t bend your elbows and keep your arms parallel to the floor. Only in this way you get the full benefit of this exercise.

Janu Gulfasana – Knee to Foot Pose

Names

Janu Gulfasana, Knee-to-Foot-Pose

How to perform Janu Gulfasana

Lay straight in Supta Samasthiti and open your arms to the side.

Check your nostrils and if you are breathing from your right nostril, bend your right knee and place your right foot next to your left knee.

Now lower your right knee to the left side so that it comes lying on the floor while your right foot keeps on touching your left knee.

Turn your head to the right side. Stay in this pose for a minute or two and then do it from the other side as well.

Benefits of Janu Gulfasana

This yoga position is very good against back pain. If you want to help sciatica pain and bring your spine into alignment, this yoga pose is good for you.

Hip and sacrum displacement, too, can be aided by performing Janu Gulfasana.


Additionally it is good for your knees, hips and ankles as it keeps the joints moving.

Focus Points

Your foot should remain touching your knee while your hands lie flat with the palms on the floor.

Gulf Vritt Sanchalan – Ankle Rotation

Names

Gulf Vritt Sanchalan, Ankle Rotation Exercise

How to perform Gulf Vritt Sanchalan

Sit in Dandasana with your spine straight. Place your hands on your hips and start moving your feet in a circular motion. You make big circles with your toes and count.

Then change direction and move them the other way around, counting until the same number.

Benefits of Gulf Vritt Sanchalan

Rotating ankles is obviously a very good exercise for your legs. You shape your thighs, reduce excessive fat and strengthen the thigh muscles.


Also your back thanks you for practicing it. Especially the muscles of the lower back are strengthened.


This exercise is often recommended by physiotherapists against pain due to slip discs or a false position of the sacrum.

Focus Points

Take care that the inner sides of your feet touch each other at all times. The strength with which you move your feet should be same on both sides.

Tips and Help

The bigger you make your circles, the bigger will be the effect and the quicker you will get your thighs in shape and your lower back muscles strong!


And the best thing about this exercise is: You can do it anywhere, whether you are in office, in a train, a plane or at home on your yoga mat!

Bharadvajasana

Names

Bharadvajasana, Bharadvaja’s Twist

How to perform Bharadvajasana

Sit straight in Dandasana. Now pull your left knee towards you and then lay your left foot next to your hip, bringing your knee to the floor. Place your right foot on your left thigh.


In the next step you bring your right arm to the back of your body and grab your right toes. With exhalation you turn your trunk and neck to the right so that your chest faces to your right side and you are looking behind you.


Place your left hand under your right knee and keep on breathing and smiling.

Benefits of Bharadvaja’s Twist

You can imagine that this pose helps you to stay flexible. It is good for moving and turning your joints and is thus a good exercise in the beginning stage of arthritis. Your shoulders, knees, ankles and hips will remain flexible until old age if you practice this exercise regularly.


With the twist of your abdomen you massage your intestines which stimulates your digestion.


Bharadvajasana is especially recommended for people who sit and work in one position for long periods of time. Upper and lower back pain caused by long sitting or wrong posture.
People suffering from sciatica pain also have reported relieve from their pain after practicing this yoga pose.


Energetically, this pose activates the third chakra which is connected to your self-esteem, enthusiasm and life force.

Focus Points

Your focus in Bharadvajasana should be to twist your spine as much as possible while keeping it straight in its vertical line.

When to Avoid Bharadvajasana

People suffering from hypertension should avoid this yoga pose. If you have a headache, you should not perform this exercise, either.


Women should avoid Bharadvajasana during their menstruation due to the pressure it gives to the inner organs.