Self-Practice: Viparita Karani


This morning, feeling a bit under the weather and a bit overwhelmed at the self-imposed pressure of my to-do list, my practice was mostly THIS. Legs up the wall/Viparita Karani.

I’ve been doing a lot of work with and noticing of my breath lately, both because of a project I’ll share here soon, and as a result of an anxious heart rate that pops up from time to time (usually, inopportune times. Like 3am.) I’ve found lately that my breath has shifted from it’s natural downward expansion with the movement of my diaphragm, into a habitual upper-chest opening with each inhale. The result, maybe, of a lot of time spent stabilizing my hips and trunk and working to free my shoulders and ribs. However this habitual placement developed, I’m noticing it’s impact. When I’m lying down, it exacerbates an erratic heartbeat, a physiological effect that does nothing to calm my mind. On waking this morning, feeling a bit under the weather despite a good sleep, and a bit breathless about what that might mean for my week and my productivity, I instinctively came into this position. Viparita Karani, hips propped on a bolster, expansion in the base of my ribcage, legs supported by the wall. This is the position where my breath finds it’s way back to the lower lobes of my lungs, my belly expanding without any effort, a soothing shift. I watch my heart rate steady and slow, my mind dropping out of it’s worries to focus on this.

After many minutes, my tingling feet tell me it’s time to come down and I rest on my back, knees lifted. I observe the shift in my center of gravity, it’s impact on my circulation and the sensation in my legs and my torso. I notice that my belly is still moving freely – my mind still steady. I return to an upright position and breathe seated – untimed – for several more minutes.

I open my eyes and note how I feel, the state of my physical body, my mind, my emotions. I feel like a whole new person, like I just began the day all over again, only now I’m prepared to enjoy it. Grateful. Humbled. My body knows what I need, and I am learning how to listen.

This series is intended to give a window into what a personal practice of yoga might look like over time. Since self practice is an individual thing, these posts are also intended to open up the conversation and offer a place to share your own observations and questions and find encouragement and inspiration. 

I would love to hear about YOUR practice. What are you working on? What’s making sense and what’s challenging for you right now? Let’s practice together. Share your experiences or questions in the comments below or a link to a post you’ve made about your own practice – on your own blog, Instagram, or elsewhere. 

4 comments on “Self-Practice: Viparita Karani

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