Legs Up the Wall Pose (or Viparita Karani) is a restorative yoga posture that allows the mind and the body to relax, relieving stress and tension. It is one of the most approachable yoga poses as it doesn’t require much flexibility or strength. But even though it’s a passive pose, its benefits are pretty amazing.
Legs Up the Wall is also an excellent, calming pose for your morning or bedtime meditations. Click here to join our free 30-Day Meditation Challenge, and find out how you can double this pose’s relaxation benefits with meditation.
Getting into the pose
Start by setting up a cozy space around a wall– my personal favorite is to just lie in bed with my legs up the headboard. Next, shimmy your hips as close to the wall as possible, then start walking your feet up the wall until your body is in a somewhat L-shaped position. Make any adjustments to facilitate a more relaxing space– maybe place a pillow under your head, or let your arms rest on your belly or out to the sides. At this point, focus on your breath– try elongating your breath, taking a deep, slow inhale through your nose and a deep, slow exhale through your nose. Try to stay in the pose for at least 5 minutes for optimal benefits.
Benefits of Legs Up the Wall Pose
- Facilitates venous drainage and increases circulation
- Elevating the legs promotes drainage from excess fluid build-up. In addition, gravity assists circulation by facilitating the return of blood back to the heart.
- Soothes swollen or cramped feet and legs
- Inverting the legs/feet has long been known as an effective treatment for reducing swelling and pain in the lower extremities. This can be therapeutic after flying, physical activity or from the detrimental effects of sitting/standing during the day.
- Stretches the hamstrings and lower back
- The angle of the body reduces the curve of the lumbar spine, which will elongate and stretch the back muscles. The closer your hips are to the wall, the more stretch you’ll create in your hamstrings.
- Relieves lower back tension
- Pressure is released from the spine in a supine position (especially on a bed or cushion), relieving the back from mild strain.
- Pelvic Floor Relaxation
- The pelvic muscles naturally release and relax in this position (more so with a cushion under the pelvis) resulting in a constructive exercise for a hypertonic (tense) pelvic floor.
Studies have shown that restorative yoga poses (specifically, Legs Up the Wall) can be beneficial for those suffering from the negative effects of:
- Fibromyalgia (e.g., chronic pain)
- Venous Disease (e.g., varicose veins)
- Menopause (e.g., hot flashes)
- Restless Leg Syndrome
- Metabolic Syndrome
Try not to bring the body to a full 90 degree angle as this can impede circulation at the hips. Instead slide your hips a few inches from the wall and/or elevate your hips by placing a cushion under your sacrum.