Legs-Up-The-Wall pose (Viparita Karani) is a wonderful yoga position that few of us take the time to do and most of us need. Much of the yoga currently practiced here in the US is active and often very vigorous. Yoga stresses the importance of balancing these yang (active) poses with yin (passive) poses.
Legs-Up-The-Wall pose fits the bill perfectly. It is a gentle inversion that helps to relieve the effects of stress by soothing the nervous system, increasing circulation and allowing the mind to calm. It is especially great for people who spend too much time sitting and standing since it relieves swelling and fatigue in the legs and feet by reversing the effects of gravity. It is also cooling to the system and is reported to lessen the intensity of hot flashes.
This relaxing, re-energizing, gentle inversion often becomes a favorite of the students I teach. Why is it we often give ourselves permission to rest only when directed by a teacher?
The next time you are feeling overcome by stress and feel the need to re-charge your batteries give Legs-Up-The-Wall pose a try. You'll be amazed at how rested, restored, and ready to go you may feel after just a few minutes in this powerfully passive pose.
To Do Legs Up the Wall Pose
Find an available wall that is at least three feet wide. Place a bolster or folded blankets several inches from the wall and sit on them with your left shoulder and hip close to the wall.
Place your hands behind you on the floor for support as you slowly lie back on the floor, and swing or walk your legs up the wall. If your hamstrings are tight, move your torso away from the wall until you are comfortable.
Adjust your bolster/blankets so they are comfortably supporting your hips and low back.
Adjust your legs so they are straight up the wall, spread in a v-shape, or place your feet together and knees apart as in cobbler's pose. Experiment to see what feels best.
Close your eyes and relax for as long as you can, aiming for 1- 5 minutes and increasing as you are able.
When you are ready, slowly lower your legs and roll to your side, bringing yourself up slowly.
Note: If your legs become numb it is a sign you should come out of the pose immediately.