Legs Up The Wall – Variations on a favourite
Too many of us think rest is a waste of time. It’s been proven though that for our nervous system to function properly we need to rest, not just sleep. It gives our brains the chance to switch from the Flight, Flight, Freeze state many of us are often in for silly reasons (like crying over spilled garbage! – an inside joke from a recent class I taught) to a state where our cortisol levels, the stress hormone, drop and our serotonin levels, the happiness hormone, increase.
- Sit on the floor with your knees bent and the wall beside you,
- Lean to the side away from the wall,
- Swing your legs up the wall, and
- Drag yourself towards the wall until you’re comfortable. There’s no need to have the buttocks touching the wall, make sure you’re comfortable.
- Set up as close to the wall as you can without over-stretching the backs of the legs,
- Bend your knees if needed, and set-up as square to the wall as possible so each of your sit bones is the same distance away.
- Hold up to 10 minutes.
If your legs fall asleep, don’t panic, it’s normal! Come out of the pose by bending the knees. Once the blood starts to flow again straighten your legs.
This restorative pose is perfect for a day off like Good Friday, or any other Friday. Or Tuesday. Or Sunday. Or, especially, Monday. Follow this series for variations on the classic Legs Up The Wall. You’ll want this pose in your arsenal if you have foot, ankle, or knee pain or injury, get swollen ankles or or lower legs, have back issues, get anxious or stressed, or have issues sleeping. Basically if you’re breathing, you need to practice this pose.
Here’s to taking care of our nervous system,
Legs Up The Wall: Classic Pose
Legs Up The Wall: Bolster
One popular way to cozify this pose is to add a bolster under the low back. The prop should cradle the arch in the lumbar spine, or lower back, not sit under the pelvis. Relax, let your belly relax, and let your back mould to the prop. Place your hands on your low ribs to focus your concentration and to help you relax. Blissful. Ahhhh…
Legs Up The Wall: Eye Bag
If you have the flexibility in you chest and shoulders take your arms out to the sides. Or, go further and take your arms over your head in “Cactus Pose”, where your elbows bend to 40, 45 or 90 degrees; any angle will do as long as your not over-stretching muscles in your chest and shoulders.
Place an eye bag over you eyes to help relax the face. You can even wrap a bandage or scarf around your head and eyes, too. This can help with headaches, migraines, stress, anxiety, and depression.
Legs Up The Wall: Blanket
Take your legs hip-width part this time. This version is perfect for you pregnant gals amd those with hip and back pain. You’re allowing the leg bones to sit in a more natural position in the hip joint and giving space for the pelvic floor to release ever so slightly.
Place a folded yoga towel or blanket instead of a bolster (see previous two posts) under the low back. This doll keep the spine more neutral while still giving you something comfortable to lie against, perfect for cushioning bones parts of the pelvis and low back.
Legs Up The Wall: Block & Neck Support
Place a block on top of your feet to help flex the ankles evenly and to stretch the calves and the muscles of the feet; you may need a *buddy* for this one.
Use a therapy cushion or rolled blanket under the neck to help support the cervical spine. I like the hot/cold cushion option because you can also add hot/cold therapy to the pose for an added bonus.
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