Legs Up the Wall (Viparita Karani) Steps, Variation and Benefits

Legs Up the Wall (Viparita Karani) Steps, Benefits and Contraindications - Sharp Muscle
6 min read
Updated: February 11, 2023

Legs Up The Wall (Viparita Karani) is a wonderful restorative pose to do before or after your Pilates and Yoga session, or anytime you need some stress relief. The pose can be used to rebalance your cardiovascular system.

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This slightly inverted posture can ease busy mind chatter and relieve uncomfortable symptoms such as stress and menstrual cramps. The legs in the wall pose are centered on stretching your legs and neck as well as the front part of your body.

This yoga mudra is a great way to practice in the end an exercise session or use it for relaxation or meditation. It is one of the most accepted yoga asana recommended for all yoga practitioners, regardless of their level of experience, as it does not require much flexibility or strength.


Viparita Karani is derived from the Sanskrit name, refers to the “action of inverting or Action of reversing” that comes from two words — Viparita + Karani:

  1. Viparita” = “reverse or inverted”
  2. Karani” = “doing or action to achieve a work”
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If you look at the traditional texts of Yoga, the Viparita Karani is described as a type of Kaya Yoga Mudra. Some Hindu scriptures state that Legs-Up-the-Wall not only reduces your wrinkles but also keeps away both old age and death. This yoga asana, being a firm posture, allows blood to circulate to every part of the body. Therefore, it helps in getting rid of almost any disease.


Also known as:Legs Up the Wall Pose, Viparita Karani Mudra, Upside-down seal pose, Viparita Karani Asana, Inverted Lake Pose
Sanskrit name:विपरीतकरणी
Pronunciation:vip-par-ee-tah car-AHN-nee
Total time:5 to 15 minutes
Drishti:Eyes closed
Type:Restorative, stretch
Focus:Legs and Feet
Indications:Arthritis, blood pressure, digestion, respiration, edema, backache, headache and insomnia
Counterpose:Savasana (Corpse Pose)
Preparatory poses:Setu Bandha Sarvangasana, Balasana, Uttanasana
Follow-up poses:Wall Sarvangasana, Dragonfly on the wall, Figure four on the wall
Contraindications:Serious neck or back problems, Glaucoma

Benefits of Legs Up the Wall (Viparita Karani)

Many of the amazing physical and mental effects of Legs Up the Wall (Viparita Karani) have been noticed by yogis including anti-aging, preventive constipation, increased appetite and glow on the face. Other physical and mental benefits are listed below:

  1. Physical Benefits:
    • Relieves mild backache, headache, and insomnia
    • Alleviates urinary and respiratory disorders
    • Increases circulation
    • Relieves symptoms of arthritis
    • Soothes the nervous system
    • Prevents edema and varicose veins
    • Relieves fatigue in the legs and feet
  2. Mental Benefits:

Step-by-step Legs Up the Wall (Viparita Karani)

  1. Start the pose by sitting with your left side against the wall.
  2. Gently rotate your body to the left and bring the legs onto the wall. When you shift your weight, use your hands to balance.
  3. Take your back to the floor and lay down. Rest your head and shoulders on the floor.
  4. Shift the weight from side-to-side and scoot the buttocks near the wall. Let the arms rest open at your sides, and your palms facing up.
  5. Let the heads of the thigh bones (the part of your bone that connects in your hip socket) release and relax, dropping toward the back of the pelvis.
  6. Close the eyes. Stay in this posture for 5-15 minutes, breathing with awareness.
  7. Slowly push yourself away from the wall and slide your legs down to your right side, to release yourself from this posture. Use the hands to help press yourself back up into a seating position.
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Legs Up the Wall (Viparita Karani) using support (a bolster or folded blanket)

Legs Up the Wall (Viparita Karani) using bolster or folded blankets - Sharp Muscle
Image: Erika Bloom


  • Place the long side of the bolster parallel to the wall, leaving about 6-10 inches between the wall and the bolster.
  • Sit on one end of the bolster, the bolster’s length behind you and one shoulder against the wall. Roll back and simultaneously lift the legs off the wall. It might take some practice to get it right. You may be too close or too far from the wall the first time; do not be discouraged.
  • Once you are in position, the legs are almost vertical and the torso is in the shape of a half-dome. Remember, this is a relaxing pose, not stretching. If the back of the legs is pulled too much then you will not be able to relax. In this case, you may need to re-adjust the props so that they are away from the wall.
  • Make sure the lower back is supported. Most people feel best when the ribs closest to the waist are supported by a bolster. If you’re uncomfortable with a bolt on, experiment with using a blanket. If you need a narrower support, try a double-fold blanket over a single-fold blanket; If you need wider support, 2 or 3 single-fold blankets may be the answer.
  • Be careful not to touch the chin to the chest to maintain the natural curve of the neck. Do not support the middle of the neck where the curve is greatest.
  • Leave the arms on the floor, either at the sides or up. If the arms are facing up, you can support them on another bolster or blanket.
  • Allow yourself to be supported by the bolster and the floor. Forget the outside world for a few minutes; Allow yourself to do the important work of doing nothing. Take slow and steady breaths. Enjoy the feeling of fatigue as the legs, back and shoulders open up and the mind calms down.
  • Practice supported legs-up-the-wall pose for 15 minutes.
  • To come out from the pose, bend the knees and press the feet against the wall and lift the pelvis slightly. Push the bolt toward the wall with your hands and push the body away from the wall, pressing with your feet. Lie on the floor for a few moments, lower legs supported by bolsters. Roll to the side and slowly rise.
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Precautions and contraindications

Before doing this yoga asana you should take care of some precautions and contraindications, as follow:

  1. Before doing the opposite, make sure your bowels are empty. Especially when you have constipation, do a small conch wash before it.
  2. Legs Up the Wall (Viparita Karani) is a mild inversion pose, and therefore, should be avoided during menstruation.
  3. Avoid this yoga mudra if you have severe eye problems like glaucoma.
  4. If you have severe back and neck problems, make sure that you do the Legs Up the Wall (Viparita Karani) under the guidance of a yoga teacher/instructor.
  5. If you notice tingling in your feet while practicing the pose, bend the knees and touch the soles, bringing the heel closer to your pelvis.
  6. When you do the Legs Up the Wall (Viparita Karani) for a long time, keep a 6-hour gap between exercise and the meal.
  7. When you feel heaviness in your head, slowly come out of the posture.

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