Viparita Karani, or Legs Up the Wall Pose, is one of my favorite yoga poses to practice on the weekend. It is a restorative yoga pose and can bring so many beautiful health benefits. These benefits are believed to include some of the following:
· A boost in energy levels;
· A digestive aid;
· An anxiety calmer;
· A headache soother;
· A reliever of lower back pain; and
· A soother of menstrual cramps
However, you are not recommended to practice this posture if you have glaucoma, hypertension, hernia, suffer from high blood pressure, or if you have any other condition that could be exacerbated by practicing this pose.
You can practice this posture with or without props; however, I find props useful to help enhance the benefits of it. You will need a wall, a yoga mat, a yoga strap (optional), and a bolster, or at least two blankets, in lieu of the bolster.
To begin, place at least one blanket (double folded) at the end of your mat to touch the wall. Your lower back will rest on this blanket as you lie in this posture so if you need additional lower back support you can place two folded blankets, one atop the other, or a bolster, in place of the blankets. I find the easiest way to transition into this pose is to sit sideways with your right side placed against the wall. Take one deep inhale, filling your lungs with rejuvenating oxygen, and as you exhale swivel your hips to the wall so that your legs press vertically against it. If you feel discomfort in your lower back area, feel free to adjust your body so that your sitting bones are situated farther back from the wall so that they are not touching it. You can place your hands in cactus beside your head or you can place them to your sides in whatever position feels best. If you need some additional comfort or support, you can place a blanket underneath your head and your arms. If you need additional grounding through your feet, you can position a sandbag or eye pillow on the soles of your feet, leaving your feet partially flexed.
I enjoy staying in this pose for about 10-15 minutes. If you feel your legs starting to spread, you can loop a yoga strap around your calves and adjust it accordingly to aid in holding your legs together.
In this position, close your eyes and breathe deeply through your nose and you feel yourself be supported by your props and Mother Earth.
The best way to come out of this pose is to gently press the bottoms of your feet into the wall and lift your hips to remove any props your have place beneath them. With care and ease, roll to either your right or left side, coming into fetal position. Hold there for a few breaths before transitioning into a seated, cross-legged position on your mat.