The Most Effective and Accessible Yoga Pose for ALL YOGIS

One of the most common things I’m asked as both a yogi and yoga teacher is my favorite pose or ‘what pose will fix xyz’.  Much like when I’m asked which of my 4 cats is my favorite, I just can’t do it (or for yoga poses, just 4!).

My go to pose, my duct tape pose if you will, is legs up the wall.  This pose can be practiced anywhere, at any time, in any clothes.  I’ve practiced this at work and home, at airports or outdoors, in a dress or cutoffs, with friends or by myself.

For me, this pose slows down my mind and heart, grounds and calms me, and helps reset my mind/body/heart/spirit. I do practice this pose every day before I head into my corporate day job; sometimes dressed for work, other days in my robe before getting ready.  I also try to spend time in this pose before teaching restorative yoga, as it helps me get into the mindset I’m trying to share with my students.

I hope you enjoy this pose as much as I do, I’d love to hear your feedback on it!

Namaste – m.

Viparita Karani – Legs up the Wall

What is it?  Simple as it sounds – you lay with your back on the floor (or a mat), get your sit-bone (aka tush) as close to the wall as possible, and extend the legs up the wall, letting them rest on the wall.

Variations –

  • Block or bolster under the hips
  • Can place a blanket on the bolster for extra cushioning
  • Strap your legs together to ease the stress out of trying to keep them together
  • Legs over a chair or couch
  • Blanket under the back or head for extra cushioning
  • Can roll the blanket to place under the neck

Why should I do it?

  • Calms the nervous system
  • Your back and head are grounded on the earth, helping bring on a calming sense to your flight or fight stress response.
  • Quiets the mind
  • You are fully supported – nothing is ‘hanging’ or ‘dangling’ – between the floor and wall, your body is completely supported, invoking a sense we don’t often get in our daily lives (walking, sitting, driving – all take effort to hold the position)
  • Its an accessible inversion for all folks, without the effort.
  • Inversion – another way of saying your turning your body ‘upside down’
  • Inversion helps regulate blood pressure, moves stuck fluids, improves digestion, and assists to reverse the effects of gravity on the entire body system
  • It is an active pose – even while you are relaxing and releasing
  • You are able to focus on your breath all the while not trying to hold a pose (think down dog, headstand, handstand, etc)
  • Relieves tired leg muscles
  • Drains tension from the feet and legs – reversing all the pressure we put on daily with walking, sitting, and other movements
  • Reduces edema in the legs and feet
  • Let gravity help move built up fluid in your legs and feet while you relax

Ok – I’m sold.. but what do I do?

  • Find space in a quiet spot of your home or office
  • Set a timer – I suggest at least 10 minutes, but even 5 minutes works
  • How do I find this time????
  • Put down your phone – spend time doing this instead of texting or on social media
  • Make an appt with your self daily
  • Lock the door of the room you are in
  • Invite kids/spouse/partner/coworkers to join you!
  • Sit down next to the space you will practice in.
  • Place a hip against the wall.
  • Gently turn your body to lie your back on the floor as you move you legs up the wall
  • Close your eyes
  • Start to breath in/out through your nose (if nose is blocked, mouth is ok to use – most important is to just simply breathe)
  • Fill up the belly, expand the side ribs for the inhale
  • Slowly release the belly and side ribs for the exhale
  • When your time is up
  • Take a minute or two to open the eyes
  • Slowly bring movement back to the fingers and toes
  • Getting release the legs from the wall, usually by reversing how you got into the pose

Take a moment to thank yourself – you practiced yoga!