Yoga Fundamentals: Legs Up the Wall

Just as we discussed in the previous yoga fundamental posts (Breathing and Foot Roll), if you think yoga is inaccessible to you, these fundamentals are an excellent place to start.  Once you feel comfortable with moving your body and experiencing the sensation of the movement, you may find yourself more comfortable with the thought of progressing in a yoga practice.

Today we will examine an excellent yoga pose--legs up the wall or restorative Viparita Karani.  This pose, even done without other yoga poses, helps to boost circulation; ease tension; calm the mind and nervous system; relieve/ rejuvenate tired legs, feet, and lower back; and provide a gentle stretch to legs, back of the neck, and torso.  Before beginning, you may want to grab a few props to assist the pose.  You may want: one or two thickly folded blankets or dense pillows.

Please, take it slow, be gentle, and if you have any hesitation, consult your doctor.  **I suggest you speak with your doctor first if you suffer from: high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, hiatal hernia, or esophageal reflux.

3. Legs Up the Wall

- Find a spot on the wall that is blank and free from furniture.

- Depending on your height and current flexibility, you may want to start with your hips about 5 inches from the wall.  Blankets/ pillows under hips will assist in comfort and ease.  Take a few moments to determine what level of support you'd like from your props before progressing.  Place the rectangular folded blanket or pillow about 4-6 inches from the wall, rest both your hips and your head on opposite ends of the rectangle.

- Swing your legs up the wall, while your low back and mid back remain on the blanket.

- If you feel comfortable, with the shoulders on the floor and arms at your sides, bring your hips in towards the wall to where you are still able to keep your knees straight, with legs vertically up the wall.

- Take a moment to relax your head, neck, shoulders, and open your chest.

- Breathe.  (Feel your belly expand on the inhale...)

- When you've found a good distance from the wall, if you're interested in a deeper stretch, slowly inch your feet apart, drawing your legs towards the floor, apart from one another.

- Remain here or inch deeper, as you feel comfortable.

- Remember to breathe.  (You may even close your eyes.)

- When you feel ready to conclude, slowly bend your knees and draw your feet up and in towards one another.  Roll feet and torso to one side.

- With one whole side on the floor, push yourself up to a seated position.

This is something you can do to take a few moments for yourself and decompress after a long day or incorporate into a workout regimine.  My hope is that you find it as restorative and refreshing as I do.

Photo taken at the Smithsonian's
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
Yoga: The Art of Transformation exhibit

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