Legs up the wall

by Alice Dommert
July 31, 2017
Energy, Yoga

In a yoga class I was teaching at one of our client’s offices last week, I realized something looked different. Typically there are screens pulled down in this room because it is a large conference room. That day there were some nice big sections of unencumbered walls. Ahhhh! You know you are a geeky yoga teacher when you get excited about an unencumbered wall. What I had planned flew out the window. The invitation to end the practice with Elevated Legs-Up-the-Wall would not be missed.

This is a pose that can work for several different purposes. First, let’s explore what it is. The title is accurate in its description. You lie on the floor, very close to a wall with your legs supported by the wall. It’s that simple. With the legs above the hips, the flow of blood gets a new experience. It’s perfect for relaxation and leg fatigue if you do a lot of standing. In yoga, this is called an inversion because what is usually down is now up. Your legs can be straight up or in a nice big v shape, or even with bent knees if that feels better for your hamstrings.

You can also just lie on the floor, on a mat or prop your hips or low back up on a blanket or a rolled up yoga mat or a pillow or couch cushion. As Adriene says “find what feels good.”

So how can you slip this sliver of goodness pose into your life? A few ways. It can be used instead of Shavasana, the pose at the end of most yoga practices where you lie in stillness on your back. It also is a nice stand alone pose for the end of your day or a great mini-pause during your day to reconnect with your breath and energy. For the effort to get into the pose, enjoy it for at least 5 minutes before you slowly come out of it. In a restorative yoga class, it may be a pose you settle into for even longer, 15 to 20 minutes.

I also use it when things feel stuck and I need a new point of view. It seems to help reorient my thinking. In Judith Lasater’s 30 Essential Yoga Poses she says ” Getting upside down every day helps me see things right side up. Perhaps this is the definition of perspective.”

There is one other variation if you don’t have a full wall or your hamstrings don’t like the full extension of straight legs up the wall. You set up in the same way, lying on the floor, but instead of a wall, you use a chair to support your legs. Your knees will be bent in this variation and can be supported by your couch or a nice beach chair.

One more sweet thing about this pose is that is called Viparita Karini (vaa-pree-taa kaa-ree-knee). The fun is in saying it out loud. I’m learning Spanish and like Sanskrit at first, these new sounds feel unfamiliar in my mouth. Am I saying it correctly? Then I relax and savor these new flavors in my mouth as another delight of this pose.

Join Adriene to lean more.

adriene legs up the wall image

Alice Dommert

Alice Dommert

Founder, Wholebeing Architect

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