Restful Medicine! Legs-Up-The-Wall

There are few yoga postures that restore and reinvigorate my whole body and being like Legs-up-the-wall, or what’s called supported viparita karani in Sanskrit.  This simple pose, which can be done at anytime, helps relieve and prevent tired legs, lower back pain, menstrual cramps, anxiety, digestive disorders, varicose veins, sciatica, and arthritis.  It also functions as a condensed nap.  All you need is open wall space and, ideally, a yoga mat or one to two yoga blankets. You might also choose to place a bolster or pillow under the lower back for added support.

Here’s how to practice legs-up-the-wall:

  1. Place a folded blanket or mat perpendicular to wall.
  2. Lie on one side and line both sides of your seat up with the wall. You should feel that each sitting bone makes contact with the wall. This is important for an easy ascent into the pose! Please reference the first photo above as needed.
  3. Roll onto your back and extend your legs up the wall.
  4. Broaden across the collarbones by gently walking the shoulder blades toward one another and then allowing them to relax.  Turn the palms to face up or place one hand on the belly and the other on the heart.
  5. Rest for 5-20 minutes. If you experience any tingling in the legs, slowly release and rest on your back until the blood flow returns to normal.
  6. How to release: You can roll onto your right side and rest or, if you’re using a blanket on top of a wooden floor, gently slide away from the walls by pushing through the feet. The latter is my preferred exit. Not only is it somewhat amusing, but it allows the spine to rest in a neutral position, free of extra torsion. It’s also an excellent way to transition into savasana.


By Sophie Slater