Less Work, More Relaxation: Legs-Up-the-Wall Pose
Viparita Ki is the best pose for relaxation. Sure, something is amazing in every stance. But, to be honest, I don’t always feel like bending forward or backward, or I’m too exhausted to stand on one leg. But have I ever refused to practice Viparita Karani? Never! I’ve done this pose on hotel beds, yoga retreats, and in the steam room at my gym.
Viparita Viparita means “inverted,” and karani means “in action.” This means that the stance inverts the actions in our bodies when we sit or stand. Reversing your body’s activities has several advantages. Listed below. Lymph and other fluids that cause swelling ankles, fatigued knees, and clogged pelvic organs travel into the lower belly, refreshing the legs and reproductive area. This is good for you at any age.
This position also helps to rebalance the body after a lengthy period of standing or sitting for anxious, tired, or jet-lagged people. But its ultimate value is in teaching us that doing less can yield positive consequences. Many of us have been taught that we must work hard to gain the rewards of any endeavor, whether it be yoga, marriage, or business. It’s valuable and relevant counsel at times. But Viparita Karani offers a new way of looking at “work” in yoga and life. And this is why I adore Viparita Karani. The benefits of Viparita Karani come from inverting not only an action but also the concept of action. Relaxing with your legs up the wall is the antithesis of movement.
The Benefits of Viparita Karani
- Headaches can be alleviated
- Increases vitality
- Prevents and relieves cramping during menstruation (some yoga traditions advise against doing Viparita Karani during menstruation)
- Lower back pain is alleviated.
Viparita Karani’s organizational principle
There is organizing and a container principle in every yoga stance. When you use the organizing principle, you set up your alignment so that the energy circuitry you create is balanced and unblocked. The benefits of each asana emerge from well-organized alignment.
Consider Viparita Karani’s organizing concept. You’ll need to get the blanket positioning under your hips exactly right to reap the full benefits of the pose. You’ll also need clean and free wall space to get started. If you’re doing it at home, try to pick an uncluttered area. All you’ll need are two blankets, a belt, and two eye cushions. If you have one, bring it with you.
One blanket can be used to make a large square. To build a strong, supportive cushion, fold the cushion in thirds. 12 inches from the wall, place the blanket cushion. Place the other blanket three feet away from the wall, folded in half. This blanket will be used to support your head and fill the space between your neck and the ground. Then, sit sidesaddle on the cushion with your right side near the wall. Make a loop in the middle of your shins with your yoga belt. It should be snug but not too tight.
Swing your legs up the wall like a mermaid tail by placing your left elbow on the floor. The remainder of your body will naturally sink, and you will find yourself resting on the floor with your legs up against the wall.
It’s now time to position your body about your props and the wall.
Your sacrum and low back should be supported by the folded blanket closest to the wall. With enough space between the wall and your seat for your sitting bones to fall slightly over the edge of the blanket toward the floor, your hamstrings should feel relaxed, not stretched.
Adjust the blanket placement closest to the wall if your setup does not follow these instructions, Bend your knees and place your feet flat against the wall. Lift your hips up by pressing down on your elbows. Reach down and start moving the blanket with your hands. Press your feet on the wall and wriggle your shoulders forward or back if you need to get closer or further away from the wall. Come down and see how you feel after you’ve finished adjusting.
You’re too close to the wall if your pelvis feels tucked under it. Pull the blanket farther up your back or move an inch or two away from the wall. Your sitting bones should roll off the edge of the blanket, forming a slight bend in your back. You should have a soft, hollow feeling in your groins. Because your legs are held together by the belt, you can completely rest them. If you notice a significant stretch in the back of your legs, your hips may be too close to the wall, so back away from it. Place your bolster vertically against the wall if you’re still feeling strained. The top of the bolster should come close to the back of your knees, allowing them to bend gently. This can assist you in untucking your pelvis while also relieving stress in the back of the legs.
Place an eye cushion in each of your open palms once you’ve found a comfortable position with your arms resting by your sides. Because you’ll be here for a while, it takes a few tries to get everything just right.
You can make a delectable variant with a few extra props and a little more time. A big block or sandbag should be available, as well as some blankets. Bend your knees and keep your feet flexed once you’ve gotten into the pose. All you’ll need are two blankets, a belt, and two eye cushions. If you have one, bring it with you. If reaching your feet is difficult, enlist the aid of a buddy. Place a folded blanket under each arm and rest your hands on your stomach. You’ll feel as if you’re floating while still being supported. Last but not least, cover your eyes with an eye cushion.
Viparita Karani’s Container Principle
Have you ever observed that asanas aren’t actually asanas? When we exit a stance, we are no longer in that pose. Asanas are temporary shapes or containers that aid in the concentration of our awareness. That experience is ephemeral in a faster-paced practice. We flip the habit of action in vital positions like Viparita Karani and stay in the container of the pose. We are merely meant to let go and be receptive, which is the only “job” we are supposed to accomplish.
Viparita Karani is a force to be reckoned with: This pose requires no warm-up. It is truly possible to do it anywhere, at any time. But just because you’re in the proper physical position doesn’t mean you’ll be able to relax right away. A soothing breathing exercise may be beneficial. Exhale for eight counts after inhaling deeply for four counts. Exhaling for longer periods slows your heart rate and relaxes your nervous system. After five repetitions, breathe normally.
After that, do nothing. Really. Allow your mind to drift like a kite in a gentle breeze. It’s OK if you fall asleep. It’s also acceptable if you don’t. When I’m stuck on a writing task, I strike this position. It’s like brain sorbet, refreshing my mind and allowing me to be more creative. Can you be receptive to what happens when you rest? Perhaps this container will reveal something intriguing to you. And suppose the most fascinating aspect is that when you sit up, you feel the enthusiasm of a new beginning, well. In that case, that’s worth a million dollars!
For 5 to 20 minutes, stay in Viparita Karani. It’s OK if you want to get up after 5 minutes if you’re not used to restorative yoga. You’ll be able to stay for longer as time goes on. Eventually, you’ll trust the pose’s container to support your undoing process, resulting in more profound rejuvenation.
Bend your knees toward your chest when you’re ready to exit the stance. Roll onto your right side and take a few deep breaths there. Using your hands on the floor, move up to a sitting position, bringing your head up last. Sit on your blanket with your back at or near the wall, removing the belt from your legs. Sit quietly for a few minutes and notice how your practice has affected you.
Viparita Karani demonstrates how our practice’s feminine, the receptive side, may be as significant as the active or masculine side. Many women know Viparita Karani’s hidden message, but they do not always pay attention. When I complained about problems in college, my father would urge me to keep up the excellent job. However, I can still remember my mother’s sympathetic voice saying, “Oh, don’t worry so much.” Put your legs up against the wall.”
Asana practice can be difficult. But when we try to master the postures and finally manage to keep our balance and position ourselves correctly, we usually feel a sense of success.
However, one of the governing principles of yoga, santosha, or contentment, creates a Catch-22. My pupils frequently struggle to grasp this concept, equating happiness with complacency. “What is my motive to ever do anything if I am pleased with things as they are?” they question. Isn’t striving for betterment a wonderful thing?”
These are excellent inquiries! Practicing contentment does not imply that you should cease striving, but rather that you should accept what is and celebrate the good in each moment. Reduce, simplify, and appreciate—in that order—are my advice for cultivating contentment.
Is it possible to reduce the number of activities required to feel fulfilled? “First, I’m going to yoga class and standing on my head, then I’m going to have a smoothie, then I’m going to see a movie with a friend, and then…” The first step toward happiness is recognizing how little you actually require to be content. When you arrange fewer activities, you make time in your day to notice the natural contentment that exists all the time.
Is it possible for you to focus solely on what you’re doing right now? Yoga students are frequently seen squirming on their yoga mats, adjusting their posture. Instead, I invite you to be content with your current position. Try organizing the setting of a pose with only two or three alterations and then staying in that position. Can you let the position unfold naturally? You might be amazed at how much mental space you gain by streamlining your actions.
Appreciation is the icing on the cake of happiness. The first two steps are semi-renunciations that lead to an open state where you can see the goodness that has always been there. Yoga encourages us to relate to a healthy sense of accomplishment in this way. Not a notch in our yoga belt begging for more achievement, but gratitude for all the good things we’ve had the good fortune to encounter in our practice.
Frequently Asked Questions About Legs-Up-the-Wall Pose
Legs-up-the-wall relieves tired legs and feet, stretches your hamstrings and back of the neck, and may help reduce minor backache.
“I recommend holding it for the same amount of time as other yoga poses — ranging from two to three minutes,” says Dr. Saper. You can, however, go for a longer time if you like. Slowly exhale from the pose: Move cautiously into a seated position and sit quietly for at least 30 seconds when you’re finished.
In fact, just 20 minutes of exercise is beneficial in calming the nervous system and reducing stress and anxiety, if present. When blood circulation in the body improves, venous drainage improves, and tension or fatigue in the legs, feet and even hips is relieved.
If you have any medical conditions, such as glaucoma or high blood pressure, see your doctor before doing your legs up the wall. It’s worth noting that some yoga teachers advise against doing inverted positions, such as legs up the wall, during your period.
Leave a few inches between your tailbone and the wall to extend the angle and promote blood flow from the legs to the heart. Perform this stance for 5–20 minutes every day for optimal results.
For most individuals, the legs up the wall stance feel wonderful in and of itself. Still, it also has a slew of other advantages. The posture can aid lymph flow circulation, offer comfort from a tense lower back or swollen or cramped feet, and increase sleep.
For 3-4 minutes, lie on your back with your legs extended vertically and your feet placed on a wall to perform “leg drains.” The old blood is drained from your legs when you stand up, allowing fresh, clean blood to be pumped back into them.
When you sit or stand, the oxygen-depleted blood in your legs has to battle against gravity to return to your heart. Elevating your legs raises them above your heart level. This indicates that gravity is now on your side. This may assist enhance blood flow in your legs’ veins.
Repeat throughout the day: The frequency with which you should elevate your legs varies depending on the individual. Try it 2-3 times a day for 20-30 minutes, and if the swelling persists, repeat it a few times more.
Elevating the damaged area too high or for too long, on the other hand, might have several negative repercussions. If you raise your injury too high, it will reduce blood flow too much. This can also happen if you keep an injury elevated for too long, and both of these concerns will slow down your body’s natural healing process.
Gravity pulls towards the earth, which is why leg elevation helps with swelling. If you raise your swollen leg higher than your heart, gravity will force the fluid in your leg to flow towards your heart.
Read more: The Yoga Pose You Need: The Health Benefits of Legs Up the Wall