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Exercises

Legs-Up-the-Wall Pose

Legs-Up-the-Wall Pose, or Viparita Karani in Sanskrit, is a restorative yoga posture that offers a wealth of benefits, making it a popular choice among people wishing to relax.

It’s accessible to many people due to its ease and modifications options, making it great for people who are new to yoga or exercise. Legs-Up-the-Wall Pose is often used in Hatha, Yin, or restorative yoga classes. Or you can do it on its own or as part of a cooldown.

Read on to take a look at how to do Legs-Up-the-Wall Pose, how to modify the posture, and the ways it can help you.

How to do it

You may place a cushion, folded blanket, or bolster under your hips. Using a higher support requires more flexibility, as does placing your hips closer to the wall. Adjust accordingly to find your sweet spot.

Bend your knees as much as you like, and if it creates comfort, you can even place a pillow between your knees and the wall. You may use a cushion or folded blanket under your head and neck.

To draw your attention inward in a practice known as pratyahara, you may wish to cover your eyes using a mask or pillow.

  1. Sit with your right side against the wall, with bent knees and your feet drawn in toward your hips.
  2. Swing your legs up against the wall as you turn to lie flat on your back.
  3. Place your hips against the wall or slightly away.
  4. Place your arms in any comfortable position.
  5. Stay in this position for up to 20 minutes.
  6. To release the pose, gently push yourself away from the wall.
  7. Relax on your back for a few moments.
  8. Draw your knees into your chest and roll onto your right side.
  9. Rest for a few moments before slowly moving into an upright position.
Variations

Once you’re comfortable doing Legs-Up-the-Wall Pose, you may wish to experiment with different variations.

Butterfly

One option is to place the soles of your feet together in a Butterfly Pose. Bend your knees and allow your feet to come toward your hips. To deepen the stretch, gently press your hands into your thighs.

Or allow your feet to open to the sides in a wide-legged position. You’ll feel this stretch in your hips and inner thighs.

Thread the Needle

For a deep hip opening, try the Thread the Needle variation.

To do this:

  1. Bend your right knee and place your outer ankle at the bottom of your left thigh, just above the left knee.
  2. Slowly bend your left knee oand press your foot into the wall.
  3. Lower your left foot until your shin is parallel to the floor.
  4. You’ll feel a stretch in your right hip and thigh.
  5. Hold this position for 1 to 5 minutes.
  6. Repeat on the opposite side.

Other things to try

To help keep your legs in place, you can use a yoga strap around the base of your thighs. This support allows you to relax your low back, hips, and legs.

Place a sandbag or weighted object across the bottoms of your feet. As you straighten your legs, press your feet into the bag and toward the ceiling. Actively focus on letting go of tightness in your low back.

Breathing

Let’s face it, while the goal is to go inward and be receptive, you may want to multitask a bit during this posture. Take the time to work on some of your breathing exercises. While the supine position doesn’t work for all of them, you can experiment with diaphragmatic, equal, or resonant breathing techniques.

Hand mudras

If you’ve ever found yourself fidgeting with your fingers, you may find that using hand mudras, or hand positions, helps you to feel calm and centered.

Try out some different hand mudras to bring about different states of mind or to set intentions. Aim to hold each hand mudra for at least 5 minutes.

You can also use stimulate acupressure points on your hands to bring about benefits such as enhanced energy, improved digestion, and relief of minor health conditions. Or indulge in a bit of self-massage to relieve muscle tension, anxiety, and headache.

Benefits

The science-backed benefits of yoga offer a tremendous variety when it comes to promoting overall well-being, and Legs-Up-the-Wall Pose is certainly a posture worth exploring when it comes to the benefits it offers.

This passive inverted pose helps you melt into the floor as you let go of stress, anxiety, and tension. It’s an excellent choice when you have swollen legs or feet, whether it’s due to heat, a long flight, or a medical condition.

There are some other key benefits of the Legs-Up-the-Wall Pose. Doing this pose may:

  • relax your mind
  • provide sciatica pain relief
  • improve thyroid function
  • relieve headache and migraine
  • increase energy
  • alleviate low back tightness and discomfort
  • relieve leg and feet cramps
  • promote lymph flow
  • manage varicose veins
  • gently stretch the backs of your legs
  • improve circulation
  • alleviate mild depression
  • improve digestion
  • improve sleep patterns
  • balance blood pressure
Cautions

You may feel a tingling sensation in your legs and feet, especially if you hold this pose for extended periods. You may also feel as though your legs and feet have fallen asleep. If this happens, simply bend your knees into your chest before returning to the pose. Or you can shake your legs to stimulate circulation.

Avoid inversions if you have any concerns with blood coming to the head. Or if you have medical conditions such as glaucoma, hypertension, or hernia.

Many schools of yoga recommend that you avoid inversions during your menstrual cycle, especially on heavy flow days. This is a personal choice that you can make based on your experience and the advice of a teacher.

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