You can work up to this posture by developing comfort with the half shoulder and reverse half shoulder stands at the wall (see the corresponding sections earlier in this chapter). It lets you enjoy the benefits of inversion without compressing your neck like a full shoulder stand does.
The Sanskrit word viparita (pronounced vee-pah-ree-tah) means "inverted, reversed" and karani (pronounced kah-rah-nee) means "action, process." Some authorities call this practice sarvangasana, meaning "all limbs posture." The word is composed of sarva (pronounced sahr-vah) and anga (pronounced ahn-gah) followed by asana.
When you feel you're ready, follow these steps:
1. Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor at hip width, resting your arms along the sides of your body with your palms down.
2. As you exhale, push your palms down, draw your bent knees in and up, and then straighten your legs as you raise your hips to a comfortable angle of 45 to 75 degrees (see Figure 10-7a).
3. Bend your elbows and bring your hands to the back of your pelvis and then slide your hands up to your lower back.
Make sure your legs are straight but your knees aren't locked and your feet are directly above your head. Press your elbows and the backs of your upper arms on the floor for support. Relax your neck. Figure 11-7b shows you this portion of the posture.
4. Stay in Step 3 for as long as you feel comfortable, or up to 5 minutes.
5. When you want to come down, first ease your hips to the floor with the support of your hands and then bend your knees and lower your feet to the floor.
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