Yoga Corner : Teaching Tools

Viparita Karani Calm Lake Posture

Contraindications: Neck injury, glaucoma, lumbar disk herniation, menstruation
When to introduce: Before Salamba Sarvangasana and as an alternative for Salamba Sarvangasana for students not doing Salamba Sarvangasana
Foundation: Back of the skull, shoulders and upper arm bones, back of the pelvis
Primary movement: Hip flexion, leg extension
Femurs in neutral rotation
Props:Blocks, bolster, belt

About the Pose: Viparita Karani is designed to be a deep calming pose for the nervous system. The inversion of the legs facilitates return blood flow to the heart, giving the heart an opportunity to rest. (Blood pressure may reduce by staying in this pose for more than for 14 minutes.) This pose is a good pose to do after a strong standing pose practice or as an alternative for students not capable of doing Salamba Sarvangasana.

Instructions: Place 2 blocks against the wall at the lowest height, or at the second height depending on hamstring flexibility. The distance between each block should be at least hip distance so that when you are in the pose there is enough space for your buttocks to fall into. Then place a bolster horizontally in front of the blocks.

Sit sideways on one end of the bolster, tie a belt tightly around your mid-thighs. Then lie down on your side with one hip on the bolster and your sitting bones directed towards the wall. From there, roll onto the back of the pelvis as you swing the legs up the wall and lower your shoulders to the floor. Exhale, bring the pelvis to neutral and settle the weight evenly onto the back of the pelvis. Inhale as you push up through the base of the big toes.

Rest the arms by your side with the palms facing up, and inhale to lift the sternum and roll the collarbones back. On an exhalation, press down through the top upper arm bones to help keep a lift in the chest. Maintain a neutral cervical curve and relax the facial muscles.

Recommended time to stay in this pose is at least 3-5 minutes.

To come out of the pose, bend the legs and press your feet in the wall, inhale lift the pelvis up off the bolster, as you slide the bolster out to the left side. Exhale to lower the hips back down gently to the floor. Keep the pelvis on the floor for a few breaths to let the
hip bones settle, then roll to the right side, push into the hands to return to sitting and remove the belt.

Prepared and demonstrated by Donna Read
Donna would like to express gratitude to her teacher, Hart Lazer and to his teachers for their inspiration and wisdom.