I once heard from a fellow yoga teacher, "if you only do one pose a day, make it this one" - Legs up the wall pose. And I couldn’t agree more. :)
Viparita Karani is one of my favorite poses it is often called the `Legs up the wall-pose´. It 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.
- Relaxation - The semi-supine aspect of the pose combined with controlled breathing leads to a slowing down within your body. This exhibits itself in a lower heart rate, which gives a relaxation response and in turn helps lower anxiety, stress, and insomnia.
- Facilitates venous drainage and increases blood 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, internal organs, reproductive and digestive organs, and your adrenal glands. Which is said to be good for headaches, migraines, digestive problems, menstrual cramps, urinary disorders etc.
- Relieves swollen and tired feet and legs - Inverting the legs/feet has long been known as an effective treatment for reducing swelling and pain. This can be therapeutic after flying, physical activity or just at the end of the day after standing/sitting all day.
- Although Legs-Up-The-Wall is safe for most individuals, those who are pregnant or that have been diagnosed with glaucoma, high blood pressure, or any serious problems with the neck or spine, should consult their doctor first.
Viparita Karani helps the body move from “fight or flight” mode to “rest and digest” mode. When you relax with your legs up the wall, you are practicing the polar opposite of activity, which is receptivity. Here's a guide to how it is done :)
1. Start by setting up a cozy space around a wall. Use a blanket on the floor or - My personal favorite is to just lie in bed with my legs up the headboard.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. At this point, focus on your breath - try elongating your breath, inhale on 4 counts, exhale on 8 - Longer exhalations slow your heart rate and calm your nervous system. Repeat five times, and then breathe naturally.
5. Gently close and soften your eyes, then scan the body. Soften into any tightness you find along the way.
6. Then do nothing, just relax - focus on your breaths. Let your mind wonder or perhaps fall asleep :) Just try to stay in the posture for atleast 5 minutes. As you get better at it expand the duration of your practice, and let this be your 5-20 minutes of meditation while lying in your favourite asana :)
7. Exiting the pose - when ready: Bend your knees toward your chest. Roll onto your right side and rest there for several breaths. Then, press your hands into the floor and walk yourself up to sitting, letting your head come up last. Sit on your blanket, with your back at or near the wall. Sit quietly for a few minutes and feel the effects of your practice.
Please remember that small changes can have massive impact on how we think and feel- even if it seems too easy. With consistent practice and attention, positive results will follow. - Do this daily, and experience the results yourself :)