Legs-Up-the-Wall

Photo Credit: Shina Welch Photography

Photo Credit: Shina Welch Photography

My all-time favorite yoga pose is Legs-Up-the-Wall. I’ve taught this to my mom, husband, friends, & yoga students. They all LOVE it. It’s easy to do, doesn’t take much time, & feels amazing, making it a crowd pleaser.

What is Legs-Up-the-Wall pose? An inversion, which basically means the flow of gravity is reversed & the head is below the heart.

The go-to restorative yoga teacher, Judith Lasater, Ph.D., P.T., wrote a great book, Relax and Renew. In it, she breaks down yoga poses that can help us relax & restore in the high-stress, fast-moving world we live in. “The antidote to stress is relaxation. To relax is to rest deeply & with Legs-Up-the-Wall that can be done in just 5 minutes”, she says.

The Benefits:

  • The most basic reason – it relieves tired or cramped legs & feet.
  • As humans (not animals hanging from trees), we stand or sit most of the day, causing blood & lymph fluid to accumulate in the lower extremities. By changing the relationship of the legs to gravity, fluids are returned to the upper body & heart function is enhanced.
  • Increases circulation all throughout the body.
  • Beneficial for the endocrine system – helps rebalance the thyroid & can also help with fertility.
  • Calming because it helps the parasympathetic nervous system to kick in (the opposite of fight-or-flight).
  • Decreases blood pressure.
  • Restful, but also recharging.
  • Gently stretches the backs of the legs, front torso, & the back of the neck.

When?

I do Legs-Up-the-Wall, without fail, once a day. Sometimes more, depending on the day & how I feel. I’ve noticed I feel much better when I do it than when I don’t.

  • Any time of the day for 5-15 minutes, especially if your legs feel achy or you feel the need to rest & slow down. Good to do at end of the work day.
  • Great after traveling, to recover from jet lag, & after walking, standing, or sitting for long periods.

Where?

  • Part of the beauty of the pose is that it can be done ANYWHERE – at home, work, in a hotel room, wherever there is a wall! *If you don’t have enough wall space, you can use the back of a closed door or large piece of furniture like an armoire.
  • A comfortable, quiet area is ideal.

Props:

  • A wall.
  • Standard-fold blanket (the firm, wool ones that are typically used in yoga studios) or a thick bath towel folded lengthwise, then in half 2x.
  • Eye pillow (optional) or a folded face cloth.
  • No need for workout clothes. Can wear anything as long as you’re comfortable. foldingbathtowel

How To Do The Pose:

Step 1: Sit on floor with 1 side/shoulder against the wall w/ knees bent, & parallel to the wall. Place your hands on the floor behind you. Step 1-sit@sideofwall

 

Step 2: Using your arms as support, with 1 smooth movement, swing your legs up onto the wall, gently lower your shoulders & head down onto the floor. Step 2 - swinglesupwall

 

Step 3: Once in position, make sure your tailbone & buttocks are completely on the floor, not rounded. Move as close towards the wall as feels comfortable. *Options:

  • If your lower back rounds, move slightly away from the wall until your lower back is flat on the floor.
  • If you are close to the wall & feel a strain at the back of your knees, bend your knees a few inches. If that doesn’t relieve the strain, move a few inches away from the wall, bend your knees, & rest soles of feet on the wall.

Place folded blanket or towel under your head & neck to support the space (cervical curve) behind your neck. Make sure your chin is slightly lower than your forehead.

Move legs to hip distance apart. Keep knees relaxed & soft with a slight bend (not locked out), just strong enough to hold them vertically in place.Step 3 - lay down, adjust blanket under neck

Step 4: And you’re in the pose! Place your arms out to your sides w/ palms facing up. Gently close your eyes. If you’d like, place the eye pillow over them. Step 4 - lay down

In The Pose:

  • Take long, slow breaths – inhale & exhale gently through your nose with mouth closed.
  • Tune into your legs – feel the fluid moving from your feet, down your legs, all the way to your abdomen. As the blood flows towards your heart, imagine the tension leaving your legs, softening them.
  • Feel your entire spine & body supported by the floor.
  • Allow your head to soften towards the floor, releasing tension in your jaw muscles, eyes, & neck.
  • With your arms spread wide, feel the openness in your chest & heart.
  • Enjoy the feeling & settle into your breathing.

To Come Out Of The Pose:

Step 5: Remove the eye pillow (if using one). Slowly open your eyes.

Step 6: Bend your knees & lower them down the wall towards your chest. Stay here for a few breaths. Step 5 - knees towards chest

Step 7: Roll to 1 side. Stay for a few breaths. *If get up too quickly, can feel light-headed. Step 6 - roll to side

Step 8: Slowly push yourself up to sitting. Step 7 - push yourself up

Step 9: You feel amazing – calm & refreshed.

This is too cute not to share…it’s kid-tested & approved too! He loved it! 🙂 even kids love it!

NOTE: The pose is very safe, but not recommended for those with: a hiatal hernia, serious eye problems, like glaucoma, during menstruation, more than 3 months pregnant, neck problems, migraine headaches, & serious heart problems.

I hope you love it as much as I do!

P.S. This is a repost that I wrote pre-pregnancy. After I was 3 months pregnant, I didn’t do the pose as often and definitely not past 7 months once it became uncomfortable to lay on my back.

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