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Yoga: Invert Yourself – It’s Good For You

I’ve talked a lot about Surya Namaskars but another yoga pose that rocks is one called Vipreet Karni.  “Vipreet” means inverted or reversed and “Karni” means action.

Vipreet Karni is classified as a “Mudra”, which also means posture (like Asana).  A Mudra’s goal is to bring stability to the body and mind by focusing the mind on prana – life force, control – with a specific posture. It brings stability to the body through stability of the mind. In that, it differs from Asana whose primary purpose is to make the body stronger and healthier.

Beginning

Here’s a picture of the beginner’s version of Vipreet Karni. Lie flat on your back, arms spread wide for support, lift your legs straight up (and I mean, 90 degrees up) and hold. When you can see your toes, that means your head and chin are in the right position too.

It sounds easier than it is so I recommend that when it is first tried, you do it with your legs supported against a wall.

Before I had learned how to do the more advanced version of this posture, I remember practicing this wall-supported beginner’s version in some very interesting circumstances.

We were six women on our Roman holiday last year. After miles of walking and playing tourist all day in that beautiful city, our bodies were exhausted, our legs and feet aching like crazy. One friend suggested getting into this posture to calm those aching limbs.

So, at the end of a hard day’s work and before our daily wine and dinner “meetings”, we would get ready with Vipreet Karni, the beginner’s kind. That meant assuming this pose on our respective beds, limbs against the closest walls and staying that way for 5-10-15 minutes. And, boy did it help!  

So what if there were six females in weird positions looking a bit loopy?  It was just for a few minutes. And it was so worth it. Thanks B!

That was my first taste of it, and it really was quite straightforward and simple.

Going Beyond The Beginning

Well, a few weeks ago, my yoga instructor introduced the much more advanced version of this posture to me during our regular class.  

No more simply lying on your back and relaxing, oh no. Now, it was time to get your torso up, up and away. 

An attempt at that is pictured above, except you will notice that it’s not quite there yet (it’s from a couple of weeks ago). Legs are not aligned straight with the torso and achieving a 90 degrees angle with the floor is but a gleam in someone’s eye. 

How to get there

Step 1 to get to this version of Vipreet Karni is to start out with the Halasana (Plow Pose) – pictured below:

From here, slowly lift just your legs, straight up, with unbent knees and without moving your hips from the Halasana position.

Ensure that the torso is also up straight (lengthen it!) so that it is at 90 degrees with the floor. It’s not quite there in the 2 week old picture above – simply not straight enough.

All the weight of the body must be on your supporting elbows, forearms and nape. Thankfully, you are allowed to support your body with your arms!  

Once you are there, try to hold that posture for some time. This is one place where your ‘mind over body‘ definitely comes into play.

We hold this position for a count of 80 now – and that will soon increase, I’m sure.  

Would you believe me if I said it was extremely tough and then some, at first? Honestly, 90 degrees seemed an impossible feat for me to achieve (no kidding!). 

But like with anything to do with yoga – you must try, try and then try again.  Here’s a picture that is more recent. 

See, it didn’t take that long for it to improve, and there’s room to continue to hone it with practice. My instructor says – you can do it for one minute, two, five or ten minutes – it can’t help but benefit you.

Vipreet Karni has become one of my favorites. One reason could very well be that I was so sure I would fail at it. Instead! I have been able to achieve it (or nearly there, anyway) and can actually own up to some bragging rights. The other (real) reason  is that it make me feel great. Body and mind.

What are its benefits?

This posture works everything in your body from the legs to the nape, especially the back and the abdomen. Strengthening, lengthening and increasing flexibility. And, let’s not forget, the real intent is to strengthen the mind! To develop control and focus.

Modern teachers believe that Vipreet Karni is good for virtually anything that ails you – Anxiety, Digestive issues, Headaches, Eye Sight, Insomnia, Depression, Arthritis, and on and on and on. What an awesome range that is!

In fact, yogis from ancient times claimed that after six months of Vipreet Karni, “grey hairs and wrinkles become inconspicuous“, and that it “destroys” old age and death.  :-)

Do you need any more inspiration to try it out?  I mean, really?

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