Katie Louvat, RYT with Yoga Loka
Are the hot summer temperatures leaving you feeling frazzled, agitated and cranky? Cool down, and reconnect with your calm, quiet center by taking a five-minute time out to swing your legs up the wall and focus on your breath.
Viparita Karani, or “legs up the wall pose,” is a passive and supported variation of shoulder-stand, a classic yoga inversion. The wall supports the weight of your legs so you can relax and remain in the restorative posture for an extended period of time. As you invite your breath to slow down and smooth out, you’ll experience the calming and cooling benefits of this simple practice.
Viparita Karani – Legs Up the Wall Pose
Time: 5 – 15 minutes
- 1 wall
- 1 – 2 blankets, pillows, or a bolster
- 1 eye pillow (a wash cloth or a shirt sleeve will also do the trick)
- Position the long edge of your bolster about six to ten inches away from the wall. If you don’t have a bolster, neatly fold and stack a couple of firm blankets or pillows to form a makeshift bolster.
- With the bolster about 8 inches away and parallel to the wall, sit on one end of the bolster so that the length of the bolster is behind you and one of your shoulders is close to the wall.
- Using your arms behind you for support, carefully pivot yourself around so your legs swing up the wall and your torso reclines onto the floor. Your hips will be elevated on top of the bolster. You may need to try this step a few times to get your position right. You should not feel a strong stretch in the back of your legs or in your lower back. If you do, come down out of the pose, move the bolster further from the wall, and try again. The final posture should feel comfortable and free of strain.
- Once you are in the pose, place an eye pillow or a cloth over your eyes, relax your arms at your sides or overhead, and bring your attention on to the movement of your breath. Invite your breath to slow down and deepen. Your mind will probably wander away, each time it does, gently and patiently bring your attention back to your breath. Enjoy the sensation of your mind quieting, fatigue dissolving, and your nervous system settling down as you rest and breathe in this supported posture.
- To come out of this posture, bend your knees into your chest and carefully roll off the bolster to rest on your side for a few breaths. Then slowly press yourself upright.
Reasons this pose may not be right for you:
Those with hiatal hernias, eye pressure, retinal problems, heart problems, neck problems and menstruating women should consult their health care professional before performing this or any other inverted yoga posture.
Katie Louvat is a registered yoga instructor and has been teaching Hatha Yoga since 2001. She teaches group and private classes at Yoga Loka in Reno, Nevada.