As we move into colder weather, it is nice to slow down our practice a bit, and to become more reflective. The holiday season can be very busy, so it is important to have a little routine that you can use to take time for yourself, and get away from all of that hustle and bustle. One of my favourite poses for that purpose is Legs Up the Wall (viparita karani in Sanskrit). It is great to practice if you’ve been on your feet a lot and your legs are tired, or if you’ve been sitting a lot.
As you can see from the picture, the pose is named quite literally. I find that the easiest way to come into the pose is to sit down with legs extended sideways against the wall, and then to rotate and lift the legs up at the same time. The feeling to look for in this posture is effortlessness. Here are some ways to make that happen:
- You can adjust by moving your hips further away or closer to the wall to make yourself comfortable.
- You can allow your knees to be a little bit bent, or you can allow your legs to be straight.
- You may choose to have your feet about hip-distance apart so that the ankles stack over the hips, or you may want your feet to be touching.
- Try as much as possible to allow your feet and ankles to relax – sometimes it helps to rotate them a few times before returning to stillness.
- Allow your hands to rest at your sides, on your belly, or overhead with the backs of the hands on the ground.
- Allow the breath to slow and perhaps deepen slightly, allowing the belly to rise and fall with each breath.
- If you are pregnant, you can still practice this pose, however you can adjust it by elevating your upper body on pillows or cushions, and allowing your hips to be further away from the wall so that the body still forms an angle that is 90 degrees or greater.
Once you have found a position that feels comfortable, you can stay in the pose for as long as it stays comfortable, ideally at least 5 minutes. If you notice that your mind wanders, try to follow your breath as it moves in and out. You may also notice that your feet become a bit cooler, or that there is a trickling sensation… that is normal, but if you start to feel pins and needles, or if it feels uncomfortable, it is a good idea to slowly come out of the pose.
To come out of the pose, bend your knees and place your feet against the wall. Pause for a moment, and then roll to one side, into a fetal position. Again, pause, and allow the body to stabilize, and then once you are ready, press back up into a seated position.