Tracey L. Kelley
Legs Up the Wall -- Perfect for Fall
(or anytime, really!)
The one word that describes Legs Up the Wall, or Viparita Karani, is scrumptious.
Once you find the positioning that works best for you (see the examples in the photo), you can easily settle into the pose for 5-15 minutes.
And there might be days when this is exactly all the "movement" you need.
This restorative posture includes ooodles of benefits, including:
Provides almost immediate stress relief and relaxation for the mind and body.
Releases tension in hamstrings, back, and shoulders.
Helps manage symptoms of anxiety and mild depression.
Relieves pressure in the lower body, including swollen legs and ankles.
Improves circulation throughout the body.
Helps reduce the effects of migraines and PMS, and also menstrual* pain.
Allows for digestive calm.
With all these benefits, there are some contraindications:
People with glaucoma or other serious eye issues shouldn't do this pose.
If you have severe back or neck problems, or neck arthritis, work with a teacher first to find the best forms of support.
*This pose is considered an inversion, and there are varying yogic philosophies about practicing inverted poses during a menstrual cycle. Do what's best for you.
It's also common to have tingling feet the first few times you practice Legs Up the Wall. Simply slide your feet together, knees bent (shown above) until the feeling subsides.
The easiest way to get into the pose is to slide your hip right up against the wall, then swing your legs upward, tailbone at the wall. If your hips and back feel a bit restricted, put your legs on the wall somehow, but open up the space between your tailbone and the wall. The easiest way to get out of the pose is to bend your knees and roll gently onto your side. Stay there for a minute or two before sitting up.
Props help you be more comfortable, too. You may or may not need them, or you might need them one day and not another. Many people simply use props because they want to be more snuggly. :) It's a great idea to experiment with:
Blankets as bolsters and as coverups
Pillows as bolsters under the hips and back, or under your head
A strap to help keep your feet together
A block under your hips or back
An eye mask to block out the world
Soft music or other atmospheric sounds
A scent-delivery mechanism
The pictures above give you an idea of how to position the physical props, but more than likely, you'll know right away by feel what works for you.
Try Legs Up the Wall before bedtime, after laboring outdoors, when you've been crouched at your desk all day, or any time you need a break. You can do it every day if you want to! Remember: it's scrumptious.
(photo credits: Yoga Journal, Practice With Kris, Love My Mat)