Legs Up the Wall, called Viparta Karani (VIP-uh-REE-tuh kah-RAH-nee) in Sanskrit, is an excellent restorative yoga pose that can be practiced every day by yoga students of all levels. This pose relieves swollen and sore legs, calves, and ankles ~ and can be beneficial for those with varicose veins. It also stretches the hamstrings, spine, and the back of the neck.
By reversing the flow of gravity, Legs Up the Wall relaxes, renews, and rejuvenates the nervous system. It calms the mind, relieves anxiety and headaches, brings serenity and peace, and heightens self-awareness. Ancient yoga texts even claim that the pose will destroy old age.
Practicing Legs Up the Wall for even a few minutes a day can be an easy way to revitalize your mind, body, and spirit!
Stuff to Know:
- If you’re a woman who is menstruating, consult with your yoga teacher before practicing Legs Up the Wall.
- Avoid this pose if you have glaucoma or other eye disorders.
- Also avoid this pose if you have a serious back or neck injury.
- Consult your doctor if you have any medical concerns.
- Be extraordinarily gentle!
How to Do Legs Up the Wall (Viparita Karani)
You can practice Legs Up the Wall with props or without props. Using a bolster beneath the hips can be more supportive for some people, but others might find that lying flat on the floor is a more rejuvenating stretch. Make sure you have a strong wall or sturdy door with enough space on either side to come into and out of the pose safely.
The following instructions are for using a bolster. If you don’t have one or choose not to use one, simply follow the instructions as below but rest your entire back on the floor.
- Place your bolster on the floor with the long side against the wall.
- Sit with your left side against the wall and your lower back resting against the bolster.
- Turn to the left and lift your legs up onto the wall. Be sure your lower back is pressing on the bolster before bringing your legs up the wall.
- Drape your lower back over the bolster. Lower your back, shoulders, and head to the floor to lie down.
- Shift your body so your buttocks scoot close to the wall, close enough for your sit bones to touch the wall. Your lower back should be fully supported by the bolster.
- Rest your arms at your sides with your palms up.
- Let your thigh bones relax. Imagine they are dropping downward, toward the back of your pelvis.
- Close your eyes and breathe gently but deeply.
- Stay in the pose for up to 20 minutes.
- When you’re ready to come out, very gently and slowly press yourself away from the wall. Bring your legs all the way down to the right side. Inhale as you press yourself back up. Come into a seated position and take a few deep breaths to reconnect with the present moment.
- Legs Up the Wall should feel good! Make whatever adjustments you need to feel comfortable and supported in the pose.
- Don’t worry if your sit bones don’t touch the wall. Just make sure your legs can feel relaxed and that you’re not expending energy trying to keep your legs raised. Experiement with different heights, support, and placement to find the position that’s most comfortable for you.
- For extra support, place a rolled towel beneath your neck.
- To stretch your legs and hips more, open your legs into a wide “V” shape.
- Try wrapping a yoga strap around your thighs when you’re in the pose. The extra support will help your legs to relax more deeply.
- Keep your breath calm and relaxed.
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Questions for readers:
Do you spend a lot of time on your feet during the day?
Do you ever practice restorative yoga poses? If so, do you have a favorite?