Pose of The Month 2017 is drawn from a few of the projects I worked on in 2016.

Several of this year's offerings are taken from two chapters I wrote for a new book by Frank Lipman MD: 10 Reasons You Feel Old and Get Fat...And How You Can Stay Young, Slim, and Happy!

Other (restorative) poses are from a project which showed how to practice when props are not available. A few are repeats from previous years. Still more were written especially for this website.

The twelve poses strung together, one for every month of the year, make up a balanced sequence for you to practice.

January | February | March | April | May | June | July | August | September | October | November

spacerOctober —
Urdhva Prasarita Padasana
upward extended feet pose
Viparita Karani
inverted relaxation pose

Urdhva Prasarita Padasana with leg lifts:

Urdhva Prasarita Padasana legs stationary, with a belt:

Urdhva Prasarita Padasana with a foam block (either static or with leg lifts):

Supported Urdhva Prasarita Padasana:

Viparita Karani:

Model: Justine Fisher, Brina Gehry, and Yvonne de Kock.

Urdhva Prasarita Padasana with leg lifts

Lie on your back with arms overhead.

Hook your thumbs, or hold the bottom hooks of your rope wall.

Bend your legs, place your feet on the floor and then straighten them to a 90° angle (perpendicular to the floor).

Exhale and lower the legs down to two thirds of the distance from the floor. Pause.

Exhale and lower the legs to one third of the distance to the floor. Pause.

Exhale and lower the legs to just a few inches off the floor. Pause.

Place your feet on the floor. Bend your legs. Return legs to the vertical position. Hold each stage for 5 to 10 seconds.

Only take the legs as far down as you are able to. Stop at the point where your lower back arches away from the floor.

To manage the spine, roll the tailbone towards the heels and draw the navel into the spine. Brace the backs of your hands, and (if possible your) arms, into the floor. The lower abdomen has to be engaged in order to engage the lower back: maintain your hands in a fixed position so they don't slide back and forth along the floor in response to the movement of the legs.

Extend your legs out from the inner thighs to the inner ankles.

When you are ready and have gained proficiency, return to the upright position with the legs straight.

Sometimes, it's easier to be on the move when practicing asana. But to anchor the mind, challenge yourself by holding a pose.

Urdhva Prasarita Padasana legs stationary, with a belt

Lie on your back, knees bent. Place a belt around the balls of your feet. Hold the ends of the belt. Exhale and swing your legs up to vertical. Extend your legs up to a 90° angle from the floor.

Broaden your feet against the belt. Move the inner edges of the feet further away from you so that the ball of the foot — particularly at the base of the big toe — is firmly pressed against the belt. Draw the outer edges of the feet down toward you.

Urdhva Prasarita Padasana with a foam block (either static or with leg lifts)

Draw your knees in to your chest and place a foam block between your feet. Line up the long side of the brick with the inner edges of your feet. Take your hands over your head and hook your thumbs.

Raise your legs to a 90° angle from the floor, slowly straightening them as they reach for the final position.

Roll your inner thighs back. Open the backs of your knees away from you. Press your front thighs down into your front groins, and extend the calves up toward the ceiling. Move the tops of your front thighs toward the backs of your thighs.


Squeeze into the brick with the inner edges of your feet. Spread your toes. Look at your inner arches and move them further away from your face than your outer arches. Push the bases of your big toes away from you. Curve the outer edges of the feet and your toes toward you.

If despite all your efforts to correct it, your head tips back, place a blanket under it. Your chin should not be higher than your forehead. Maintain the pose for 30 seconds to two minutes, breathing normally.

You can practice Urdhva Prasarita Padasana with or without supoort.

Suported Urdhva Prasarita Padasana

Do this toward the start of your practice to stretch the body out — this is not a resting pose.

Begin by sitting with your left side against the wall and your legs out in front of you.

Lean sideways to the right and pivoting on your hips, swing your legs up the wall.

Lower your back to the floor and support your heels and sitting bones against the wall. Shift your weight from side-to-side, walk in with your shoulders and scoot your buttocks as close to the wall as you can. Rest your shoulders and head on the floor.

Extend your arms above your head and hook your thumbs. Change the hook of the thumbs.

Now rest your arms out to your sides, palms facing up. Roll your shoulders down and away from your neck and turn your upper arms out at the sockets. Relax your hands and wrists. Keep your legs held vertically in place.

To come out: Slide back away from the wall. Roll to your right side. Wait for a few moments. before pushing yourself away from the floor, head trailing the torso.

Contraindications (all variations):

  • Low back injuries.
  • Menopause (this pose can precipitate hot flashes).
  • This pose grips and engages (even when supported) the abdomen, so please do not practice this pose, or any of its variations when menstruating.

1 — 5 minutes.

Viparita Karani

The name comes form the Sanskrit works viparita meaning "inverted" or "reversed," karani meaning "doing" or "making," and asana meaning posture.

Strictly speaking, Viparita Karani refers to any practice where one is upside down, e.g. Sirsasana (headstand), Sarvangasana (shoulder stand), Adho Mukha Vrksasana (handstand) and Pincha Mayurasana (forearm balance).

In yoga texts, Viparita Karani means "opposite process." A practical definition of an invervion is any pose where the head is lower than the chest and the legs are raised.

Setu Banda Sarvangasana is not an inverted pose. But because of the similarity of the positioning of the upper body (the chin and sternum bone are close to each other forming a chin-lock (Jalandara Banda) it gives similar benefits to Sarvangasana.

Urdhva Prasarita Padasana is not an inversion, as the head, chest and hips are all on the same level. The effect on the hormone system in Urdhva Prasarita Padasana is practically nil as compared with Sarvangasana and Viparita Karani, where the hormone system is stimulated.

Practice this pose at the end of your practice. This variation of the pose (only two blankets are shown in the drawings) was part of a project showing how to practice with a minimum — or even no props.

Place  a bolster, or at least two (or more, depending on the length and flexibility of your spine) firmly folded blankets against a wall.

Kneel to the side of the bolster or blanket stack, facing into the room.

Lean sideways over the support, and pivoting on your hips, swing your legs up the wall so that your pelvis rests on the blankets and your heels and sitting bones are supported against the wall.

Those with more flexible bodies can move closer to the wall by walking in with their shoulders. Those with stiffer bodies should take a lower support, i.e. two blankets, which can be moved further away from the wall if necessary.

Rest your arms out to your sides, relaxing your hands and wrists. Keep your legs held vertically in place.

Soften the eyes, draw your senses in and relax.

To release your hips and groins, cross your legs at the shins. Then cross your legs the other way.

To come out: Slide back off the support. Cross your legs and rest them on the support. Change your cross legs. Slide completely off the blankets. Roll to your right side. Wait for a few moments before pushing yourself away from the floor, head trailing the torso.

5 – 10 minutes.

Contraindications: Menstruation.

With thanks and gratitude to my teachers, BKS Iyengar (1918-2014), Prashant Iyengar, Geeta Iyengar, Abhijata Sridhar, and Sunita Parthasarthy.

Drawings and text © Bobby Clennell. All rights reserved. No reproduction without prior permission.

©2008 – 2017 Bobby Clennell.