Legs Up the Wall pose ("Viparita Karani" in Sanskrit) is a restorative yoga posture allowing the mind and body to relax, relieving stress and tension. It is one of the most approachable yoga poses as it doesn’t require much flexibility or strength. But even though it’s a passive pose, the benefits are pretty amazing.
Getting into the pose:
Start by setting up a cozy space around a wall-- my personal favorite is to just lie in bed with my legs up the headboard. Next, shimmy the hips as close to the wall as possible, then start walking your feet up the wall until the body is in a somewhat L-shaped position. Make any adjustments to facilitate a more relaxing space-- maybe place a pillow under your head, or let the arms rest on the belly or out to the sides. At this point, focus on your breath-- it should be a deep, slow inhale through the nose and a deep, slow exhale through the nose. Try to stay in the pose for at least 5 minutes for optimal benefits.
Benefits of Legs Up the Wall Pose:
The semi-supine aspect of the pose combined with controlled breathing leads to a slowing down within the body. This exhibits itself in a lowered heart rate which elicits a relaxation response and in turn helps lower anxiety, stress, and insomnia.
Facilitates venous drainage and increases circulation
Elevating the legs promotes drainage from excess fluid build-up. In addition, gravity assists circulation by facilitating the return of blood back to the heart.
Soothes swollen or cramped feet and legs
Inverting the legs/feet has long been known as an effective treatment for reducing swelling and pain in the lower extremities. This can be therapeutic after flying, physical activity, or from the detrimental effects of sitting/standing during the day.
Stretches the hamstrings and lower back
The angle of the body reduces the curve of the lumbar spine, which will elongate and stretch the back muscles. The closer the hips to the wall, the more stretch in the hamstrings.
Relieves lower back tension
Pressure is released from the spine in a supine position (especially on a bed or cushion), relieving the back from mild strain.
Pelvic Floor Relaxation
The pelvic muscles naturally release and relax in this position (more so with a cushion under the pelvis) resulting in a constructive exercise for a hypertonic (tense) pelvic floor.
Studies have shown that restorative yoga poses (specifically, Legs Up the Wall) can be beneficial for those suffering from the negative effects of:
Try not to bring the body to a full 90 degree angle as this can impede circulation at the hips. Instead slide the hips a few inches from the wall and/or elevate the hips by placing a cushion under the sacrum.
Free and quick yoga class for tired legs (including Legs Up The Wall Pose). Let's practice!