Yoga can be so many things; you can get strong, fit, open, and capable with a strong yoga practice. What happens, though, when we move into the softer side of yoga, a more restorative practice? Put simply, our bodies start to heal as all this rest is taken (and no, you don’t need to work hard to deserve rest, my friend).

Here’s one of the best restorative poses to take right before bed, to help you unwind, slow down, as well as support any back or hip niggles.

How to do legs up the wall pose (viparita karani)

  1. Make sure you have a pillow, bolster, or rolled up blanket to-hand. From a seated position, move one side of your body as close to a wall as you can.
  2. Slowly turn your body so you face the wall, and walk your feet as high as feels comfortable.
  3. Press your feet into the wall to gently lift your hips, bringing your squishy prop underneath your lower back.
  4. Rest your legs against the wall, close your eyes, and breathe. Rest here for as long as you feel comfortable (I recommend at least 5 minutes).
  5. Option: do this without a wall. The blanket or prop underneath your lower back can be surprisingly supportive.

Tips & Modifications:

  • If getting your legs super straight is a challenge, try using a bed or chair instead of a wall. This way, you can let your legs bend and be more supported.
  • Try using an eye pillow as you rest here—this can be a total game-changer in resting poses.
  • Option to bring your legs wide, bend your knees, or bring the soles of the feet together in butterfly pose (baddha konasana).
  • Tune into your breath in this pose. You can place one hand on your heart, the other on your belly if that feels right.

The benefits of legs up the wall pose

This pose is an inverted pose, which means your legs are higher than your heart. This isn’t something we tend to do most of the time, so it allows your heart to beat a little easier as gravity begins to take over a lot of the hard work.

Because of this, this pose can help support good circulation and is ideal if you’re someone who suffers with fluid retention in your legs and lower body. This sort of fluid retention can result in swelling and discomfort, and also might increase your chances of blood clots.

Even if you don’t suffer with bad circulation in your lower body, normal day-to-day activities like standing and sitting can limit your body’s ability to properly circulate blood. But this pose can help.

And, since your heart is able to beat a little easier, this pose is, of course, amazingly restful. Resting poses like this one promote healing in your body, easier digestion, and the soothing of stress and anxiety. Don’t discredit restorative yoga and still, quiet poses like this just because they’re not the body-pumping exercises you’re used to. In fact, restorative yoga and resting in general is integral to a balanced nervous system.

What about your hips and back? Well, because we’re shifting into a different relationship against gravity, this pose can help soothe any hip or back aches and pains with that gentle downward pressure.

The Takeaway

Regardless of how much you’ve been working lately, you deserve rest. And this pose is a particularly good one. Rest in legs up the wall pose for a while, and you’ll find your body and mind soothed, and it’s a perfect pose to include in your pre-sleep routine.

Want to try this in a class? This 18-minute Sleep Session is an ideal place to start (and it’s all done from a bed). Or, join our Inner Circle and get a live class for free (try Sarah’s Big Calm on a Sunday evening—it’s the perfect slow-down you didn’t know you needed.

Chloe - TYR Founder & Joyful Living Coach

POSTED: 02/10/2023

Chloe is a yoga teacher, mindfulness guide, and joyful living coach, and she thinks the meaning of life is probably to be as happy as possible.

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