Viparita Karani / Legs up The Wall

The pelvic health physiotherapist and the yoga therapist in me agree: our all-time favourite pose for postpartum women is Viparita Karani.

In Sanskrit, viparita means “reversed”, “inverted” or “opposite”, and karani means “doing” or “making”.  After childbirth, I believe this is just what we need: to focus more on reversing/inverting all of the doing/making for a while!  Our bodies, minds, and spirits have collectively been very busy getting through a life-altering experience; it is therapeutic to take some time to recover and restore!

Long days and nights postpartum spent holding and feeding our newborns, along with the effects of gravity, place increased pressure on our vulnerable pelvic organs and abdominal walls.  By adopting viparita karani, we use gravity to our advantage and it has some amazing effects on our bodies:

  • Increases circulation by facilitating blood flow back to the heart
  • Reduces pressure on our pelvic organs and abdominal walls (so helpful for those of us suffering with pelvic organ prolapse!!)
  • Relieves mild back pain and gently stretches hamstrings
  • Reduces swelling in ankles and varicose veins
  • Calms the mind when lying still in this pose and reconnecting with our breathing

To get into this pose:

  1. Rest your legs vertically (or nearly so) on a wall, and place a folded blanket, small pillow or bolster underneath your pelvis, so that you are elevated to a comfortable level.
  2. Be careful when you are getting up and down from the floor: Don’t hold your breath as you move and come down slowly onto your side first before rolling onto or off of your back.
  3. Tip: It helps to get your buttocks as close to the wall as possible (think about approaching the wall from a side sitting position) before coming down onto your side and then rolling onto your back in order to get your legs close to the wall.

This pose should be comfortable and pain-free.  It should not be performed if you have eye conditions such as glaucoma, heart conditions or hiatal hernia.  If you start to experience any tingling in your feet/legs, bring your heels in together, bend your knees and slide your feet down towards your pelvis for a bit, or come out of the pose.  

Try to adopt this posture a couple of times a day for 5-15 minutes to see if you can reap all of the benefits.  How wonderful is it that one pose can do so much??!!