Viparita Karani: Altering Our Outlook by Mary Pat FitzPatrick
Do you love living in a constant state of being switched on or the sound of your cell phone regularly chiming with notifications? Perhaps you can’t turn away from the news reports of once-inconceivable events emerging on a daily basis or you love the feeling of tensing up and being on high alert… if this is true, then this is not the pose for you!
However, if you are interested in abandoning that vision and embracing an altered outlook altogether, open to recovering from over-stimulation, slowing down your heart rate, slowing the brain waves, relaxing the blood vessels, and reducing the stress hormones that circulate in the bloodstream, then join Armando in a chair (pictured above) or on the floor and shift your perspective.
Viparita Karani is also known as the legs-up-the-wall pose or waterfall pose. It’s great for relaxing the body, mind, and heart. Imagine the feet as the top of a waterfall and the legs as water rushing down into the lagoon of the belly. The body feels fluid, like water. The legs find relief in this inverted position with the strap(s) as a boundary. The weight of the sandbag on the bottoms of the feet induces tranquility and comfort in the lower back muscles while the spine is supported. The diaphragm and rib cage are open, which makes it easier to take deep, naturally full breaths. Space is created for the abdominal organs. An openness across the chest occurs, while the arms and shoulders are supported and free of tension. The head is heavy and fully supported.
The mind and body calm while effortlessly experiencing the gravity-reducing effects of this inversion. Digestion may improve. There may be a reduction of fluids and fatigue in the legs. Remain in this pose for at least ten minutes to receive the full benefits.
A more traditional variation of this posture is done on the floor with the legs up against the wall, arms relaxed by your sides. You can easily find numerous tutorials for Vipariti Karani online. Here is one example from Yoga International.