Viparita Karani = Legs up the Wall
While getting into this pose may take a bit of practice or an awkward moment or two, the benefits are undeniable. Leg Cramps, Restless Leg Syndrome, Anxiety… all of these things can be helped with this simple pose.
I like to recommend this pose for anyone and everyone. Ever experience knots in your calfs? Ever feel that restless feeling like you need to walk or run or something? That feeling is caused by lactic acid buildup in the legs caused by all our “upright” movement throughout the day. Most of us spend so much of our day in that upright position, hunched over at a computer, biking, driving, walking or any other number of activities that this simple inversion can really benefit just about anyone.
In addition to the anatomical benefits, this pose has fantastic calming benefits as well. Gentle Inversions, especially restorative ones, have the ability to calm our nervous system and bring a sense of relaxation to the body. This particular pose is fantastic because it combines a gentle inversion with a variation on Savasana or final relaxation.
There are many variations to this pose including, but not limited to; putting a bolster or blanket under the hips, placing a block under the hips, placing a block on top of the feet, placing an eye pillow over the eyes or over the wrists, or even moving this pose away from the wall.
To get into the pose. Sit with knees bent on a blanket next to the wall with one hip touching the wall. As you slowly lean back onto your tailbone, straighten your legs and bring them up so the side of one leg is touching the wall. Slowly rotate on the blanket so that your butt and heels are up against the wall. (HINT: This works best if you are on some sort of hard surface. Carpet will make this more difficult.) Shift and scoot till you are comfortable and your butt is against the wall. This pose works best if you keep your legs relatively straight, although a slight bend can be more comfortable to some. Gently relax.
As I stated before, many variations can be made with this pose including placing soothing lavender pillows over the eyes or the wrists to further relaxation. You can even place a blanket over your chest and torso to make this even more comfortable. You might feel a slight tingle or even numbness in your feet. This is completely normal and is part of the acid draining out of your legs. Feeling should return to normal once you come out of the pose.
There are two ways to come out of this pose. The first way is if you are on a blanket and on a hard surface (and if you have enough room behind you). Simply bend your legs till your feet are flat against the wall and push! It’s fun and an effective way to exit this pose and a lovely transition into Savasana if that is where you are going. Again, make sure you have enough room for this dismount.
The second way is a bit more intuitive, can be done on any surface, and involves coming out the same way you came into the pose. First start to rotate your body so that the side of your body is next to the wall. Gently lower your legs down towards the ground. From this reclined position you can either move slightly away from the wall to come to Savasana or you can gently roll to one side and use your arms to push yourself up to a seated position.
Anyone can benefit from this pose. Try it and see how it works for you! What did you feel? Did you find yourself more relaxed? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.
Check out more of the benefits here: http://www.yogajournal.com/basics/2336