Yoga Yogi: Viparita Karani

The gig is over, but the night’s work isn’t. You still have to tear down your kit and schlep it back home. Hopefully you don’t have too many flights of stairs to negotiate, but it’s the dreaded post-gig schlep either way (if only we all had roadies!). Hauling equipment in and out, night after night, can take its toll on a back already tired from hours of hard play.

One of the simplest yoga postures to release and relax a tired lower back is viparita karani (“legs up the wall”), a beginner’s inverted posture. Yogis have been using inverted postures for centuries, not only for the physical benefits, but also as a way to change how they perceive and interact with the world around them.

From a drummer’s perspective, practicing inversions might open up new ways to approach rhythms and even foster innovative music ideas. On a physical level, this posture brings relief to tired, overworked legs using gravity to help drain excess fluid from the legs and allowing the lower back to rest completely supported by the floor. This pose lowers blood pressure by stimulating baro-receptors in the neck. It also lowers the heart rate and slows the brain waves. Anxiety, depression, insomnia, and migraine sufferers also benefit from this practice.

Execution of the posture is simple:

  1. Sit down with the right shoulder and hip next to the wall, legs straight out.
  2. Roll to the floor on your left side.
  3. Roll to your back and swing your legs up the wall.

You can do this posture with the buttocks and back of the legs in contact with the wall, which is suitable if your hamstrings are somewhat flexible. If that is not the case, you can practice with the buttocks away from the wall, and you can even bend the knees slightly as well. In both variations, keep the spine perpendicular to the wall. This posture can be held for five or ten minutes with slow, deep belly breathing.

As always, check with your physician to determine if this exercise is suitable for you.