Known as the “Viparita Karina” pose in yoga, this “legs up the wall” posture has excellent therapeutic benefits. It’s an easy-to-do position that anyone can do. Nothing complicated except maybe for its name!! It doesn’t require strength nor flexibility. It is a passive exercise. It builds a connection between the body and the mind. I try to do it every day to restore my soul and body. It brings me into a deep state of relaxation. I feel renewed!
As ancient yoga texts claim, the inverted gravity resulting from ‘the legs up the wall’ stretch pose, is believed to destroy old age?!
No doubt, its many health benefits are worth a try.
It increases the blood circulation
- Relieves swollen ankles and feet
The excess fluid build-up causes water retention in the legs and feet. You may have heard of swollen ankles or feet? Raising your legs straight up against the wall helps reduce the swelling and pain in those lower extremities because it increases the blood circulation and thus stimulates venous drainage.
- Prevents varicose veins
This inverted vertical position facilitates the return of the blood back to the heart, relieving the pressure off the veins and preventing getting varicose veins. Too much pressure on the veins causes them to stretch, expand, and lose elasticity. Physical activity such as both too many hours of sitting or standing weighs on our legs and feet.
- Soothes tired legs and calms menstrual cramps
This “active inversion” brings great relief by removing the tension in your legs, feet, and hips.
By relaxing your belly, it reduces the pain incited by menstrual cramps. However, the increase of the blood flow causes your period to be a bit heavier afterward.
It facilitates digestion
Raising your legs above the pelvic area improves digestion because it loosens the fluids and more nutrients are absorbed. It also helps bowel movements avoiding constipation and bloating.
It conditions the mind for a deeper self-awareness
The heart rate lowers and it relaxes the nervous system. You will feel calmer both emotionally and physically. It improves your breathing because more air is inhaled, reducing stress, anxiety, and insomnia. Balanced deeper breathing allows for the brain to receive more oxygen, helping get a night of better sleep.
It relaxes the mind, improving our mental health by relieving cerebral tensions. The slow, in and out, rhythmic breathing releases the strains in our muscles, belly, and sinuses. It relieves headaches.
Finally, it calms the whole abdomen area, providing a nice restorative exercise to the pelvis.
It lessens lower backache
With a cushion placed under the lower back, legs straightened, this inverted pose diminishes the pressure on the spine, soothing lower back and pelvic pain.
It improves flexibility
As with any stretching position, it helps get more flexible and improves mobility. The curve of the spine being reduced, this stretch particularly strengthens the legs, abdominal muscles and elongates the hamstrings.
Read here “How to get more flexible: best 6 tips!”
It’s easy to do: here are the simple steps
- Wear loose comfortable clothes such as pyjamas. Tight workout clothes will restrict your ankles, legs and will refrain proper blood flow. The purpose is the opposite! We want to improve blood circulation!
- Place a small cushion under the lower back, ensuring a balanced and comfy posture.
- Place your feet and legs vertically, up against the wall, bringing your bottom as close as possible, almost perpendicular to the wall. This will enable your legs to really stretch and expand.
- Lie down and rest your head and shoulders on the floor.
- Stretch and relax your arms at your sides, hands, and palms facing up. You can also have your hands rest on your chest or tummy. Whatever feels best for you at the moment!
- Close your eyes to keep distractions away and be more conscious about your body.
- Slowly start breathing in and out. Take a deep breath, inhaling through the nose counting to 5, exhaling out the mouth counting to 5.
- Stay in this position 5 up to 20 minutes for maximum results!
- When finished, slowly push yourself away from the wall and slide your legs to the left or right, whatever feels better for you. Carefully put yourself back into a sitting position. Do not do this too suddenly as you could hurt your back.
Do not worry if your sit bones do not touch the wall. Make sure though that you are not the one carrying your thigh bones, but the wall should. The whole purpose is to let go of all tensions and efforts. You should feel at ease. If not, move away from the wall and try different heights of support.
Alternatives to add an extra stretch
- Place a small towel under your neck for better support.
- Spread your legs into a great ‘V’ shape to further stretch your hips and thighs.
- Bring your heels and the soles of your feet together, bending your knees. Slide your feet down the wall towards your pelvis.
- If you are flexible, you can use a higher support under your lower back.
To the wall!
Such a simple pose for such numerous health benefits and physical relief! It reduces water retention in your legs preventing getting varicose veins; relieves fatigue and tired legs, menstrual cramps, and backaches; calms your mind leaving you in a state of pure being; facilitates digestion; oxygenates your brain regulating your respiratory system and improves your flexibility.
This upside-down gentle position is the best move you can do before going to bed, after a long flying trip, an exhausting workday sitting at the office, a long walk, a workout training, etc…
Remember, to get a maximum good blood flow, do not bend your body to a full 90 degrees because it cuts the circulation at your hips. Keep your buttocks a few inches away from the wall.
Finally, do not perform this posture and consult a doctor if you have a back injury. It is mainly a restful practice. It doesn’t heal you from diseases such as restless leg syndrome nor chronic pain.
Read here “why is stretching so important?”
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