Life often puts us in stressful situations that suck our energy and feel hectic and stressful.
All this can make us tense in body and mind, but luckily yoga offers us poses that can take us from ball of stress to calm quickly!
One fast-acting anxiety reliever is the legs up the wall pose, an asana that in a few minutes calms the mind and body, gives vitality to the lower limbs, lowers blood pressure and strengthens the immune system.
Put your legs on the wall, feel better-what’s there not to like about that?
You can also do this yoga inversion anywhere, even in the office if you have your own space, or if you’re extra brave!
In this article, we will look more closely at why you would want to put your legs up on the wall to begin with, benefits, and useful tips on how to hold this yoga pose in the right way!
How do you do Viparita Karani, or legs up the wall yoga pose?…
It has tons of benefits AND is incredibly easy!
- Sit on the floor, on a mat if you prefer, in front of a large, object-free wall.
- Lift your legs vertically and lean them against the wall. The glutes should also be in contact with the wall.
- Your body should be bent at a 90° angle.
- Relax and breathe normally.
Position your arms along your sides, slightly apart and with the palms facing upwards.
To increase the opening of your chest, bend your elbows, and rest the tops of your hands in line with your head, like the photo below.
After settling into the yoga posture, begin to “observe” your body more closely.
The reversal of the circulation favors the elimination of toxins and the supply of oxygenated blood to the brain.
The blood no longer needs to be pumped upwards, but naturally flows back to the heart.
For this reason, you may feel a slight tingling and like your legs are almost falling asleep.
Don’t worry, it’s normal!
Hold this yoga posture for at least 5 – 15 minutes, but that definitely is not a rule!
In yoga, there are no rules and you are in charge!
Well, actually your body is in charge and you need to listen to it and stay in any yoga pose only as long as it feels comfortable.
It’s better to keep your legs up on the wall for 2 minutes feeling absolutely committed to the moment and focused on your relaxation than spending 10 minutes in discomfort and while thinking of something else!
Modifications for legs up the wall pose…
If this yoga pose isn’t as chill-inducing as you had hoped it would be, yoga props to the rescue!
One quick and easy way to make legs upon the wall more comfortable is with a cylindrical cushion called a yoga bolster.
Put the yoga bolster against the wall under your lower back. Instant bliss!
You can also use a yoga block, folded blankets, or towels under your pelvis for maximum comfort.
If you have neck discomfort, try putting one or more folded blankets or towels under your head.
If your legs keep trying to slide down the wall, hindering your much-needed relaxation, you can use a closed yoga belt (not too tight) around your ankles to keep your legs from slipping.
Yoga props are great tools to really explore the posture and focus on your body and your spirit while being comfortable, pain-free, and truly relaxed!
Modification to take it up a notch!…
LOVE this yoga inversion??
One advanced variant of this position consists of widening the legs into a “V” position.
Take this yoga posture one step further by keeping your knees separated in the “V,” but then bringing the soles of the feet together.
Need one more challenging yoga pose variation?
Forget the wall completely and hold your legs in the air using your abs to keep them in place.
Try this pose variation with or without a yoga block under your pelvis.
There is also a yoga prop made ESPECIALLY for this yoga posture called the Viparita Karani box!
Use it against the wall, or even pulled away from the wall for yet another pose variation!
JoMar Yoga does an excellent job explaining variations on legs up the wall pose in the video below.
What are the benefits of legs up the wall?…
Legs on the wall (or Viparita Karani) is defined by many yogis as the “long-life elixir” of the asanas.
This refreshing asana can be maintained for a long time by most practitioners, and so creates the reverse-circulation situation thanks to the force of gravity.
You can use Viparita Karani when you feel like your energy is zapped, or when you feel like your legs need to “breathe,” like if you have been on your feet all day.
With the way in which this restful asana turns the body upside down without any effort, it physiologically brings the practitioner towards a deep and gradual quieting of the mind.
Once you have correctly aligned your body in this yoga posture, your ONLY JOB is to let go of any superfluous effort and slowly immerse yourself in that blissful sense of relaxation that the asana will give you.
A must try.
Viparita Karani is considered one of the most healing among the regenerating yoga poses.
It reduces cardiac work by promoting the flow of blood to the chest and resting the heart.
In this quiet upside down – as in many other more active yoga inversions – the weight of the blood in the feet, legs, and abdomen stimulates the pressure receptors in the neck and chest and reduces arterial shrinkage throughout the body.
This promotes the reduction of high blood pressure in hypertensive practitioners.
Once you get into position, imagine that the shape of the asana creates a fluid internal “waterfall” from the legs towards the abdomen and chest towards the heart.
The blood flows like a peaceful waterfall towards the heart with a gentle and controlled flow.
This “waterfall effect” creates a serene refreshing effect on the mind and body.
Physical benefits of legs on the wall yoga pose:
- helps drain blood and lymph from the lower limbs to the head, reducing swelling of the extremities
- improves blood flow and circulation by preventing the formation of varicose veins
- invigorates the facial muscles
- helps to relax the skin of the face
- promotes muscle relaxation
- increases intracranial pressure and the consequent lowering of blood pressure
- promotes digestion and helps fight constipation
- makes your feet feel REALLY good
Mental, emotional, and spiritual benefits:
- yoga inversions improve the circulation of energy in the chakras: Vishuddha, Muladhara and Svadhisthana
- calms the nervous system, reducing the level of stress and anxiety
- it can improve your mood
- excellent remedy for insomnia and headaches
- helps you unwind at the end of the day
- reconnects you with yourself and your breath
- keeps you present, promotes mindfulness
Is legs up the wall pose a good pose for everyone?…
Legs up on the wall is a beginner friendly asana but some people should avoid this yoga posture.
Those with an enlarged liver, spleen or thyroid, cervical osteoarthritis, herniated disc, hypertension or other heart ailments, thrombosis, weak eye capillaries should avoid the pose.
*If you have a medical condition or are pregnant, consult your doctor before beginning a yoga practice.
When in a yoga practice should I do the legs up the wall pose?…
Legs up on the wall pose is an incredible way to end your practice and it’s best used as a substitute of Savasana, the traditional asana for sealing in the yoga practice.
Of course, when it comes to yoga there are no strict rules to follow and each practice should be in tune with how you feel when you jump on your mat.
If you need an energetic flow, go for it and use legs up on the wall as a cooling down, final stretch.
If you had a stressful day and you are tired, and your body is stiff and tension took over, you can even jump right into legs up on the wall to unwind and reconnect.
Do what feels good to you, people!
Try a restorative yoga practice…
If you love the legs up the wall pose, you may love an entire restorative yoga practice!
YogaDownload offers an entire restorative yoga program with yoga poses and postures that will take you to a WHOLE NEW LEVEL of relaxation while increasing your flexibility.
Why mess around with YouTube yoga when you can access a huge variety of high-quality classes and programs taught by world-class yogis?
One yoga class in the program, that I think sounds like a must-take, is called Super Lazy Restorative by Channing Grivas.
YogaDownload describes this uber-relaxing class below:
“This class is designed for when you’ve had a long day on your feet! There is little movement so you can just unwind into the cave of your consciousness. There is considerable time in legs up the wall – expect a lowered heart rate, decreased swelling of your feet and ankles, and total relaxation!! Use of the bolster is optional.”YogaDownload
AND look what yoga pose this class features!
You guessed it!
YogaDownload offers single classes or super-affordable monthly subscriptions that give you access to every style of yoga under the sun!
Legs upon the wall is incredible to release any tension, relax the muscles, and take the body into complete relaxation. Give yourself the chance to do absolutely nothing and reconnect with yourself at a whole new level of quiet, mindfulness, and relaxation.
Thanks for reading, and take care!
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