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.

Ushtrasana – Camel Pose

Names

Ushtrasana, Camel Pose

How to perform Ushtrasana

Kneel in Vajrasana, then raise your body so that you do not longer sit on your heels. Increase the distance in between your knees and in between your feet so that they are the shoulder-width apart from each other.


Now place your right hand on your right heel and your left hand on your left heel. Push your pelvis to the front, your chest upwards and let your head hang back.


To come out of the yoga pose, raise your head up, bring your pelvis back, your chest back, then leave the grip of your heels and slowly sit back down in Vajrasana.

Benefits of Ushtrasana

Ushtrasana is a posture recommended for pregnant women as it alleviates delivery.
It is a yoga posture good for your abdominal area with the pancreas, bladder and liver. It gives a strengthening stretch to these organs and muscles. It brings flexibility to your upper body and gives room for your lungs to expand.

Focus Points

Press your heels down with the hands to give the proper stretch and push your pelvis to the front to increase the arch.


Don’t forget to breathe!

When to Avoid Ushtrasana

Do not perform the camel pose if you have injuries in the lower back or shoulder area. It is also not advised for practitioners who have high or low blood pressure or migraine problems.
 

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.

Eka Pada Paschimottanasana

Names

Eka Pada Paschimottanasana, Half Hero Forward Bend, One Leg Forward Bend

How to perform Eka Pada Paschimottanasana

Sit in Dandasana with straight legs and a straightened spine. Check which of your nostrils is active. If you are breathing more from your right nostril it means that your right side is activated.


Bend your right knee and place your heel under your buttocks as you would do in Vajrasana. Bring your arms straight up without bending your elbows.

With an exhalation bend forward and grab the toes of your left foot. Place your upper body on your left leg and right thigh. Come up with inhalation.


Repeat this posture from the other side.

Benefits of Eka Pada Paschimottanasana

Eka Pada Paschimottanasana is a beneficial pose to stretch and strengthen the thigh, calves, hamstrings, back and spine. It prevents and heals sciatic pain.


Your strength and the flexibility of the knee joints and ankles is improved by this posture.

You want to reduce fat from the belly? Perfect: if you practice this posture daily you will never have a problem with gaining belly fat and you can even reduce it.


There is also a positive effect on the digestive system and other organs as the bending forward stimulates and massages the organs.


It relaxes the mind and improves concentration due to the increase of blood flow and blood circulation in your upper body and head.

This is why it is also good for diabetes. It regulates the sugar in your blood by this activation of blood circulation.


This yoga pose strengthens the nervous system.

Eka Pada Paschimottanasana works with the solar plexus chakra which is responsible for distributing the energy in your body. You will thus feel energetic, enthusiastic and active.


Eka Pada Paschimottanasana stimulates Prana, Samana and Apana Vayu in the body. Prana Vayu lives in the heart region and moves between heart and navel. It is responsible for breathing, the heart function and the movement of digestive acid.

This posture gives a positive effect to Prana Vayu and its action as well.


Samana Vayu, which is located in the navel region, is responsible for the function and the movement of the abdominal organs like pancreas, liver, kidney, spleen and gall bladder.


Apana Vayu is located between navel and anus and its function is to produce urine and stool and the pressure to get rid of it again. Bladder, uterus, fallopian tubes, ovaries and their functions are also connected to Apana Vayu.

That’s how this posture is beneficial for menstruation irregularity or problems with the menopause. It also stimulates the acupressure points on the buttocks.

Focus Points

Always bend down with exhalation and come up with inhalation. Your focus should be to lay your upper body on your legs and try to keep your upper body as straight as possible.


Keep the foot of the straight leg stretched by pulling your toes in the direction of your body.

Tips and Help

To make this posture even more fun you can do it together with your partner. Just sit face to face to each other and practice together.

You can for example help your partner in bending forward by pulling his arms towards you.

You can place a cushion under your buttocks if you are not comfortable bending forward. You can also put a folded blanket or a cushion under your ankles when they are hurting or they make you feel uncomfortable.


If you cannot put your heel under your buttocks you can also place it next to them as in Virasana.


If you cannot grab your toes, try to reach as far as possible on your calves.

When to Avoid Eka Pada Paschimottanasana

Avoid this posture if you have an ankle or knee injury, torn ligaments or a damaged meniscus.

You should also not do this pose if you are suffering from back pain, slip disc, a displaced sacrum or diarrhea. It is not very good to do this exercise during pregnancy as it pressurizes the womb.


Be careful with doing this posture if you have strong sciatic pain.

Bhujangasana – Cobra Pose

Names

Bhujangasana, Sarpasana, Cobra Pose

How to perform Bhujangasana

Lie down on your belly with your body and knees straight and your feet together. Place your hands beside your chest and with inhalation lift your upper body up until even the navel does not touch the floor anymore. Look straight up.


To come out of the pose, slowly lay your body back down on the floor with exhalation.

Benefits of Bhujangasana

Practicing the cobra pose is very good for strengthening the spinal column and the muscles supporting the spine. This is how it is often recommended against backache, in some cases even if you suffer from pain after a slip disc.


The cobra pose also works wonders for your abdomen and abdominal organs. It helps your digestion and thus prevents and also works against constipation. Also if you have the feeling your stomach often bloats, frequent practice of this yoga posture can help you alleviate your discomfort.

This help for your digestion has another effect, too: toxins and excessive salts are removed from the body which prevents them from forming kidney stones. Together with the intake of much water and other exercises, the cobra pose is said to reduce the size of existing kidney stones, too.


Women who have issues with their ovaries or suffer from irregular menstruation cycles and leucorrhea as well as pain during menstruation can get relief through regular practice of Bhujangasana.


The cobra posture also helps your lungs to fully expand and collect a larger amount of oxygen which then helps the heart and blood circulation. The result is that you feel fitter and more energetic. Fatigue is relieved and you can cope with stress more easily.


Energetically Bhujangasana also helps you to feel more alive. It enhances your sexual life. Men will find that regular practice of the cobra posture works against premature ejaculation.


Bhujangasana is an exercise for the whole body as you can see in the many benefits described above. This is why it is popular as a posture enhancing your whole life!

Focus Points

Your legs and feet should remain together and touching each other during the practice of the yoga pose. Your toes should point to the back, so that the soles of your feet are turned upwards. Keep your hands with the palm flat on the floor.


Throughout the full pose, you should keep your shoulders relaxed. Don’t hang the weight of your upper body on your shoulders.

Tips and Help

If you want to bring your buttocks in a nice shape and chose this exercise for it, you can increase its effect by squeezing your buttocks with inhalation and pressing the pelvis down. This tones your muscles even more!


Keep your breathing rhythm: come up with inhalation, do complete yogic breathing while you are in the pose and come down again with exhalation.

When to Avoid Bhujangasana

Pregnant women should avoid practicing Bhujangasana.


If you are suffering from wrist, shoulder and neck pain, from cramps in that area or a sprain of the arm, you should consult your doctor and avoid the exercise until he approved it.

Baddha Konasana – Bound Angle Pose

Names

Baddha Konasana, Bound Angle Pose, Cobbler’s Pose

How to perform Baddha Konasana

Sit in Dandasana with your legs stretched out in front of you and your back straight. Bend your knees with exhalation and bring the soles of your feet together. Pull them as close to your perineum as possible.


Slowly let your knees fall further down until your legs are nearly horizontal and parallel to the floor. Sit comfortably with thus opened hips and let your perineum be in direct contact with the ground.

Advanced Variation of Baddha Konasana

If you are relaxed in this position and would like to continue to further advanced practice, you can bend forward with a straight back and place your chin on the floor.

From Baddha Konasana you can go into Gorakshasana or into Titali Asana.

Benefits of Baddha Konasana

Along with Sarvangasana, Baddha Konasana is one of the most recommended postures for women. It especially good for women during pregnancy and after giving birth.

This yoga pose moves your pelvic region, rotates your hips, stretches your hip muscles and leg muscles and thus increases flexibility and elasticity. This flexibility alleviates labour and labour pain.


Regular practice of Baddha Konasana also helps in case of irregular menstruation. Menopause problems can be relieved, too.


Of course this flexibility for hips and groins is not only good for women! It even reduces the risk of hernia.


Practice of this yoga pose prevents and cures lower back pain and sciatica pain as well as it strengthens the thigh muscles. It can be good in cases of slip disk and sacrum displacement but please consult with your doctor before whether you are fit to do this exercise.


Bladder and kidneys are stimulated in this yoga pose which helps prevent urinary tract problems, slow urination and burning while urinating.


It is an anti-stress pose that relaxes your system and thus can cure anxiety, fatigue and depression. It is also said to have good effects on the heart and lungs. High blood pressure and asthma problems shall be reduced by practice of this pose, too.


Through the work in your entire pelvic region.

Focus Points

Relax your hip joints and focus on bringing your legs further down rather than bringing your knees down.

Tips and Help

You can take a blanket under your buttocks to raise your sacrum. This will give you comfort in this sitting position. Especially in the west, where people are not use to sitting on the floor, many people will find it easier to use a blanket to sit on.


Do not press your knees down with your hands. If you want to stretch even more, you can press down your thighs instead.

Ardha Chakrasana – Half Wheel Pose

Names

Ardha Chakrasana, Ardha Kati Chakrasana, Half Wheel Pose

How to perform Ardha Chakrasana

Stand straight in Samastithi. Keep your feet hip-width apart from each other. With inhalation you place your hands on your lower back just above your buttocks and bend backwards as much as your body allows you. Stay in this position and keep breathing. Come up with exhalation.


You can repeat the posture 3 to 5 times.

Benefits of Ardha Chakrasana

Ardha Chakrasana is a beneficial yoga posture for your heart and can help you to regulate high blood pressure.


As it gives your belly, abdominal organs and intestines a good stretch, it helps your digestion and makes your inner organs work properly again.


The bend of the spine and the impulse that your nervous system gets is good for spondylitis.


The bending backwards will bring flexibility to your spine and hips and when you have back pain you should do the posture to get some relief.


Additionally the bending backwards gives you room to breathe and thus helps your respiratory system and can even relief asthma problems.


If you want to lose some weight, do Ardha Chakrasana as it tones and strengthens the thighs, hips and waist which will reduce excess fat in this area.


Ardha Chakrasana also helps women with menstruation problems or disorders and uterus problems or any other gynecological problems such as leucorrhea as the backward bending stimulates the ovaries and fallopian tubes.


Pregnant women should also perform this exercise in most cases to prevent stiffness of the back and back pain. It can make the delivery easier. But please consult your doctor before you practice this posture during pregnancy.

Focus Points

For beginners it is very necessary to support the back with the hands as you can harm your back very easily when you bend too much backwards without supports in your back.

Tips and Help

Bring your hips forward and bring your body weight on your toes while bending backwards.

Ardha Bhekasana – Half Frog Pose

Names

Ardha Bhekasana , Half Frog Pose

Ardha Bhekasana is a variation of the Cobra Pose.

How to perform Ardha Bhekasana

First of all, you need to check which nostril you are breathing from.
You start this pose from another variation pose of Bhujangasana the cobra. You keep your lower arms on the floor with your elbows under your shoulders and your hands straight in front of you. The remaining body is in the cobra pose with your chest up and your legs stretched out in the back.


Spread your legs now about half a meter apart. If your right nostril is active, move your left hand towards your right elbow so that your left lower arm comes to lie in front of you. Now bend your right leg and bring your right foot as close to your buttocks as you can.


Through this change of arm position you are now able to lift your right arm up and grab your right foot with your right hand. Pull your foot down towards your hip. If you can, pull it down until the floor next to your hip. Now turn your hand around so that your fingers point forward towards your upper body. Through this your elbow comes further up and the heel of the hand is towards your legs.


Stay in the posture for 20 to 30 seconds, then bring your leg and arm slowly back to the floor and perform the pose from the other side.

Benefits of Ardha Bhekasana

Ardha Bhekasana is a pose that stretches your complete upper body. Your chest is opened, and through the stretch, your abdomen and internal organs get space to expand.
By this change of your usual posture, you stimulate your digestive system.


Of course you simultaneously stretch your thigh muscles and the muscles around your ankles with which these body parts get more and more flexible. You strengthen your arms, shoulders and neck.


Ardha Bhekasana is particularly good for women as it prevents and relieves problems with the uterus. With regular practice it can help against irregularities of menstruation.
Another benefit of this yoga pose is that it stimulates the second chakra and thus enhances sexual energy in the body.

Tips and Help

Try to keep your body straight and not twisted to the side while you are performing the posture. Keeping your breathing deep and normal helps you find peace in the pose.

When to avoid Ardha Bhekasana

It is good to avoid Ardha Bhekasana if you are suffering from migraine, insomnia, low or high blood pressure or injuries of lower back, shoulder or knees. You should also not press your ankle too hard if you experience any kind of pain in your knee.

Akarna Dhanurasana – Shooting Bow

Names

Akarna Dhanurasana, Shooting Bow Pose

How to perform Akarna Dhanurasana

Before starting this pose, check which one of your nostrils is active, from which nostril are you breathing more.
When you are sure which one, sit in Dandasana, bend forward with exhalation and grab the big toes of both feet. You put the middle and the index finger in between your big toe and the index toe, wrapping them around the toe. Your thumb should rest on the nail root of your big toe. You can see the exact position on the picture above.
With inhalation bend the knee of your active side and bring the foot closer to your ear by pulling on the toe. The leg of the inactive side should be lying flat on the floor. Hold the posture and your breath and with exhalation slowly place your leg back to the floor.
Repeat the same procedure with the other leg.

Benefits of Akarna Dhanurasana

The practice of Akarna Dhanurasana strengthens feet, shoulders, thighs, buttocks and calves. Through this it gives a beautiful shape to your legs!
Not only your legs benefit, also your arms, shoulders and chest get stronger with practicing the shooting bow! Your nerves are stimulated and refreshed. This can be especially good for people who work a lot with their hands such as writing or drawing. Also office workers who sit for long periods or tailors who do both, sitting for a long time and working with the hands, can benefit very much from this yoga posture.
Additionally, when you grab your toes in the way explained above, you pressurize certain acupressure points, for example the nerve located on the big toe which is related to your abdomen area.
As you can imagine, this yoga pose is also beneficial for your belly as it contracts and releases the muscles and moves the whole abdomen area. It stimulates digestion so if you have difficulties with constipation and indigestion, this exercises can do wonders for you! Pain in the lower regions of the abdomen and the larger intestines is prevented and relieved.
This is also one of the yoga poses that, if done regularly, can help if you have irregular menstruation.
Last but not least, it opens your chest and gives your lungs room to expand and breathe.

Focus Points

Take care to keep your hips as straight as possible and the knee of the leg that is on the floor should remain straight.
Grab your toes in the way described above to get the full benefit of the posture and feel the stretch when you pull it towards your ear.

Tips and Help

If you have spinal injuries you should avoid this yoga pose.