This is the first in a new series of posts on restorative yoga poses to deeply relax and nourish body, mind and spirit.
My yoga teacher used to say that legs up the wall pose is the cure for just about everything – and I have to agree.
After a tiring day spent sitting or standing, legs-up-the-wall (known as viparita karani in sanskrit) is the perfect way to unwind. With numerous benefits, its a pose that almost every body can do.
All you need is a wall, one or two blankets or a bolster, and a towel or eye mask. A strap is useful if you have one. Allow at least five minutes, or preferably twenty.
- Refreshes the legs and reproductive area allowing lymph and other fluids flow into the lower belly (particularly modified with your pelvis elevated on a folded blanket)
- Gently boosts blood circulation toward the upper body and head, relieving headaches and tension
- Relieves lower back tension and tight hamstrings
- Soothes menstrual cramps
- Rebalances and refreshes particularly if you are stressed, fatigued, or jet-lagged
Not recommended for: high blood pressure or hernia; some teachers prescribe against during menstruation
Place your 1st blanket (folded in quarters) a metre from the wall – this is where you will rest your head in the pose. Place your 2nd blanket (folded in half and then into thirds) a few inches from the wall. Sit with your right hip and legs along the wall to the left of your blanket and lean onto your left elbow away from the wall. Swing your legs slowly up against the wall as you ease onto your back. Adjust your hips so the blanket is comfortably beneath you. It should support just under your sacrum.
If the backs of your legs feel too tight you may be too close to the wall. It will take a few goes to get this just right — but its worth it.
Pop the eye mask or towel over you eyes and relax your arms out to the side with your palms facing upwards. Relax all the tension in your groin (using a strap around the thighs can help with this if you have one). Roll the shoulders down your back and relax your neck. Close your eyes and breathe. Stay as long as you like- believe me you won’t want to get up!
The true gift of this pose is learning to surrender and and receive benefits that come from doing less, not more.