Legs Up The Wall Pose: What Is It, And How Can It Help You?
It’s a funny looking yoga pose, and it may not exactly be the kind of thing you can do on the fly, but that’s not what Legs Up The Wall, also known as Viparita Karani, is really about. So what is it about? It’s about letting go… letting gravity have you… and finding a sweet release in your hips and low back that many people merely dream of. But it’s available to you any time you have a moment (and space) for it.
Do you drive a desk for a living? Or maybe a truck? Perhaps you’re a chauffeur… for your 7 year old. Maybe, like several of my friends, you are a flight attendant. Jetting off here, there and everywhere… visiting exotic locales because you can, and helping passengers have a safe and comfortable trip along the way. Problem is, all that comfort-creating is doing a number on the old legs and back, as is all the driving… whatever you’re carting around.
I like to say that “yoga is the counter pose to life”. Whatever you do with your body all day long, is going to have an effect. Being on your feet for 8-10 hours will likely produce sore feet. Holding your toddler on your hip on the right side most of the time because you’re stronger on that side, will create an even greater imbalance in your body, if you don’t do something to counter it. That’s exactly where yoga comes in! Yoga is the perfect compliment to whatever your activity of choice is, because it evens things back out. It’s a bunch of poses that are really counter poses to your life’s poses. Ta dah!
5 Health Benefits Of Viparita Karani
Relieves Lower Back Tension
For many people, this pose feels like coming home. It instantly makes gravity your friend, and actually makes it work FOR you, for once. As you send your legs up and lie back, it’s such a supported place to be that your back can’t help but relax.
Promotes Serious Relaxation
In fact, your whole body can’t help but relax in Legs Up The Wall. It’s a great place to practice deep breathing too, which only heightens the relaxation factor. This is a great thing to do right before bed.
Better Blood Circulation
Thanks to the gravitational assist, your heart has a really easy time gobbling up all the blood on its way back from touring your body. It doesn’t have to do much at all, which is great, because that little ticker is going to beat literally billions of times during your lifespan. Help it out a bit when you can.
Relieves Pain + Swelling In Feet + Ankles
This is an immediate and tangible effect of Viparita Karani, and the inspiration for this whole blog. While you’ve been on your feet all day, or driving your _____ all day, your poor dogs have been holding your whole world up. For a variety of reasons it is extremely common to experience foot and ankle swelling at the end of a long day, and I’m here to tell you that this pose can (and likely will) become your BFF.
Viparita Karani is great for digestion because it delivers a little poke to your whole system. Getting into the pose provides gentle but targeted movement for the organs of digestion, followed by deep and nourishing relaxation. The increased blood circulation encourages the natural flow of digestion.
How To Get Into Legs Up The Wall Pose
To come into the pose, sit next to the wall so that your right or left shoulder is near the wall. It doesn’t have to touch the wall but maybe it does. From this position, lie down on your back as you simultaneously send your legs up the wall. You’ll end up “L” shaped, but you don’t have to be at a perfect right angle. In fact, your booty should be a little bit away from the wall so your hamstrings don’t receive too much stretch, unless you have a lot of openness in the hamstrings, like this lady.
Viparita Karani is a wonderful way to unwind, so take some care in setting up a nice space. A yoga mat isn’t necessary but something soft underneath you would be nice. You may want a blanket. Some people like to put a bolster or a block under their hips, but others prefer to have the whole back and hips on the floor. An eye pillow might be nice, and music is always a great option when you’re looking to unwind.
Once you’ve got your legs up, take a moment to adjust yourself and get comfortable. Put your eye pillow on, start your podcast, or your deep breathing, and just “be” for the next 5 minutes or so. Stay longer if you like, but if your feet and legs start to feel tingly or fall asleep, come out of the pose.
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