Know the Asana: Vipareeta Karani Asana

Vipareeta karani asana is an inverted asana.

Physiological basis of benefits

Vipareeta karani asana strengthens the muscles of the abdominal wall, the deep abdominal muscles, the muscles of shoulders and arms and the front muscles of the neck. It is rare that an asana from the preliminary or intermediate group strengthens the muscles of the upper extremity. In the final position, the line of gravity is transmitted down through the pelvis to the delicate parts of the wrists and forearms, before finally reaching the ground. The major part of the body weight is supported by the wrists and elbows which are designed mainly for fine and precise movements. In contrast, in sarvangasana, the shoulder stand, the line of gravity is transmitted through the strong area of the shoulder girdle and therefore it is not so strenuous for the arms.

Vipareeta karani asana relieves the pressure of weight-bearing from the lumbar vertebrae, knees and ankles, and to some extent relieves pain in cases of sciatica and pinched lumbar nerves.

The venous blood from the legs and pelvic organs is efficiently drained with the help of gravity, improving cardiac pumping action and overall circulation. The decongesting effect on these areas allows fresh blood to flow in more easily, bringing nourishment and oxygen. This effect is beneficial for people with swollen feet, varicose veins, piles, varicocele and muscular fatigue caused by overexertion or prolonged standing. Varicocele is a condition where the bunch of small veins in the scrotum becomes dilated and convoluted. This stagnation of blood around the testis increases the local temperature and hampers sperm production, leading to sterility. If pregnant women or elderly people are unable to do this asana, they can simply rest their legs against a wall or on a chair.

The venous blood from the head and neck area is adversely affected by gravity, producing congestion and in some people an uncomfortable build-up of pressure. Therefore, people with high blood pressure, glaucoma or high pressure inside the eyeballs and problems related to the retina, brain and heart should refrain from practising this asana.

In vipareeta karani asana the pelvic and abdominal organs fall back gently in the direction of the chest. The pelvic cavity feels relatively empty and a partial vacuum is created. The muscles of the perineum and all the sphincters are relaxed and there is the feeling of air being sucked into the rectum or the vagina. This effect of relaxation and decongestion in the pelvic area is beneficial for the health of all the pelvic organs. As a result of the movement of the internal organs the diaphragm is not able to move freely, respiration becomes shallower and requires more effort.

Vipareeta karani asana gently presses and stimulates the thyroid gland and helps stabilize the metabolic activities in the body. Indirectly, it may also help make the menstrual cycle regular through its effect on the thyroid. Besides the thyroid it stimulates the parathyroid glands with beneficial effects on calcium metabolism and bone health.

Pranic effect

Vipareeta karani asana reverses the direction of the downward moving apana vayu. The spiritual energy is redirected upwards towards higher chakras, preparing the individual mind for dharana, concentration. When done with moola bandha this effect is more pronounced. It induces tranquility in people who have perfected it. Inverted asanas are therefore mostly done as a final practice just before starting pranayama and dharana.