Viparita karani, or "Legs-up-the-Wall Pose" (viparita means "inverted" and karani means "doing") is a powerfully restorative posture. It is a variation of the Shoulderstand. In fact, this pose can be an alternative inverted posture for those men who find the Shoulderstand too challenging. Legs-up-the-Wall Pose helps to relieve backache while providing the stimulating benefits of an inverted posture, helping to promote good circulation, particularly in the legs and feet. In addition to being practiced as part of a complete yoga workout, yoga postures can be practiced individually for their specific benefits whenever and wherever you have the time and inclination to do them: Try this posture when you come home from work and want to relax and renew yourself after a stressful day. Follow the example set by the model in Fig. 13.3: take off your shoes, loosen your belt, and invert your legs up the wall.
In viparita karani, you'll be lying on the floor on your back with your legs supported above you on the wall. You may wish to have a pillow or other padded prop handy to support your lower back and hips in this position. First, find a comfortable, padded space on the floor next to a wall where you'll be able to place your legs. Sit sideways against the wall with your right side facing the wall, about five to six inches away from it. As you exhale, swivel your buttocks toward the wall as you simultaneously lift your legs straight against the wall and lower your upper body so that your back is on the floor. Check to see how this placement of your body against the wall feels. If you are stiff, or tall, you may need to slide your buttocks slightly farther from the wall. You can also try placing a pillow or other padded prop under your buttocks for additional support. Experiment until you find a comfortable position. Don't be discouraged if it seems difficult to get into position on the first few tries. You are using Fig. 13.3: Legs-up-the-Wall Pose your body in a new way, and it can take time to develop the kinesthetic sense to do the pose comfortably. This pose is deeply restorative and is well worth the effort to experiment with it. Stay in this position for a few minutes to begin and gradually increase your time in the position for up to 15 to 20 minutes. As you perform Legs-up-the-Wall Pose, allow your sternum to lift toward your chin. Avoid any strain on the neck.
Back pain can be caused by problems with the muscles of the back, and also (and commonly) as a result of weak abdominal muscles. Healthy buttocks muscles are also important to good posture, a healthy back, and an attractive appearance. The following section will help you learn how you can help build strong abdominal muscles while helping to relieve back pain at the same time. Some of these exercises will also help firm and strengthen the buttocks.
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