Legs up the wall or Viparita Karani has been praised in the past as being the go-to pose for all that ails you. I’m sure there is scientific proof out there somewhere for this bold statement but what I do know is that it a wonderful, relaxing pose with the added benefit of having positive effects on many of the bodies systems.
Essentially an inversion (a pose where the heart is at a higher level than the heart – think headstands, shoulder stands), Viparita is a gentler way to allow blood flow and nourishment to the reproductive, urinary, digestive systems and at the same time the heart gets to rest from pumping the blood from the legs back up. The lymphatic system is involved in this circulatory action too so the immune system is getting a boost. It also:
- Relieves tired or cramped legs and feet
- Gently stretches the back legs, front torso, and the back of the neck
- Relieves mild backache
- Calms the mind
There is a list of more benefits at the end of this article.
It is a great pose for anyone who has neck issues and cannot practice a full head or shoulder stand.
I’m trying to include it in my practice everyday, even for 5 minutes at the end of the day. Last year I had way too many colds and sinus problems so I’ll keep you posted on my progress. It can be practiced anywhere you have a wall…easy! No special props needed.
I recently was asked by a student was there anywhere else that one could practice if space at home was limited and the answer is yes. In fact, you can get quiet inventive. Use a table, chair or the sofa. You can even practice on your bed before sleeping, a good way to unwind even if you feel a bit silly. What would be great is if you have a dedicated space to practice and you never know, you could end up do more postures, some meditation and even breath work! All you need is a clear wall space wide enough for you get in and out of the posture with ease.
So, how do you get in and out of this posture with ease?
- Place you blanket or mat with the short end to the wall.
- Sit to one side/hip against the wall. Have your bum to the edge of your lengthways part of the mat closest to you.
- Then gently swing your legs up the wall, your upper torso on the mat/blanket.
- Bring your arms out on the floor, a bit from your waist, palms up or place them resting on your abdomen.
- Your legs can be straight with heels resting on the wall or have the knees bent, feet on the wall. Whatever feels right to you.
- If you find your chin tilting to much to the ceiling place a support under the head, not too high. Just enough to bring the head level to the chest.
- Keep a blanket handy to through over yourself to keep warm as you relax.
- Allow the body to melt into the floor and connect with your breath.
- Hold for 5-20 minutes
To come out, bend the knees gently into the chest and roll over to one side. Rest for a couple of breaths here then come back to a seated position and let the body settle.
Viparita Karani may help with:
- Digestive problems
- High and low blood pressure
- Mild depression
- Respiratory ailments
- Urinary disorders
- Varicose veins
- Menstrual cramps
- Premenstrual syndrome
Cautions: Inversions as a rule should not be practiced when you have your period but this one can be if it is not too heavy. As with any inversion Legs Up The Wall should be avoided if you have serious eye problems, such as glaucoma. With serious neck or back problems only practice this pose with the supervision of an experienced teacher. If your feet begin to tingle during this pose, bend your knees, touch your soles together, and slide the outer edges of your feet down the wall, bringing your heels close to your pelvis.
So there you have it – Legs Up The Wall. It is a pose I often include in my Rest & Restore workshops and weekly Restorative classes. If you would be interested in learning more please contact me or check out www.anandacentre.com for more info.
Have fun and remember yoga is for everyone 🙂