Legs up wall yoga pose benefits
It’s challenging to think that simply lying with your legs up wall yoga pose may improve your mental or physical health. However, as yogis have known for thousands of years, the most basic postures can have the most profound results. This ancient position has so much to give, especially in a world beset with stress and busyness, from soothing the nervous system to enhancing immunological health, giving some much-needed time out, and even promoting lifespan.
Please continue reading for your how-to guide on Viparita Karani and its numerous benefits!
Viparita Karani’s name, which can be found in yogic manuscripts dating back to the 17th century, tells us a lot about the posture’s goal. We can deduce from the words viparita, which means “reversed,” and karani, which means “in motion,” that what many of us think of as “legs up the wall stance” is intended to reverse and rebalance fluids, blood flow, and energy. This posture can help with more than just flipping the flow of physical fluid; it can also help with the flow of prana, or ‘life force energy,’ because Viparita Karani is both a mudra and a yoga pose.
Mudras are symbols or motions used to guide and improve energy in the subtle body, and Viparita Karani is all about preserving a healthy life force or subtle energy for as long as possible. Viparita Karani is supposed to help rebalance energy that runs via the various nadis (energy channels) and chakras (concentrated ‘wheels’ of energy found along the spine) in yogic books such as the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, and even says:
“After six months of practice, grey hairs and wrinkles fade away.” Death is defeated after three hours of practice.”
Pradipika of Hatha Yoga
While we can’t promise immortality or the prevention of grey hairs, the benefits of this position may aid in reducing oxidative stress, which means it may help reduce inflammation and, possibly, grey hairs!
Three advantages of the legs up wall yoga pose
1. Helps your lymphatic and glymphatic systems and boosts your immune system
In the same way, as inversions like headstand and shoulder stand are thought to bring new blood flow and oxygen to the brain and upper body, Viparita Karani permits fresh, oxygenated blood to flow to the upper extremities while also boosting lymphatic fluid flow.
The lymphatic system filters and breaks down bacteria and other potentially hazardous cells, but the nodes that do most of the filtering are found on the neck, armpits, stomach, and groin, which is why inverted positions like these are so critical for transporting fluid there. Because the lymphatic system lacks a ‘pump’ like the circulatory system of the blood, it relies on gravity and movement to function.
Another significant but little-known advantage of lifting the legs while resting is the capacity to stimulate the glymphatic system. This system is responsible for effectively sweeping away the bacteria that the lymphatic system has filtered, making it a critical second step in clearing the body of undesired infections. What’s the secret to making it all function even better? Relax. Both of these systems function much better when the body is relaxed.
2. Assists in the activation of the parasympathetic nervous system – our rest and digest state
Resting in an inverted position causes respiration to slow, which signals to the vagus nerve that it is okay to begin thoroughly relaxing. The vagus nerve is a long nerve that starts in the brain and travels down through the body, connecting to the throat, heart, diaphragm, and gut. This nerve constantly senses what is going on in the body and sends messages up to the brain, which determines how we feel.
Are you rushing around and exhaling quickly? When the vagus nerve detects stress, it sends a message to the brain, saying “stress!” The brain then encourages the release of cortisol, the stress hormone. Are you lying on your back with your legs up the wall, breathing slowly? When this nerve detects that you are calm, it sends a message back up to the brain, allowing it to assist you in transitioning from the sympathetic nervous system (‘fight or flight’) to the parasympathetic nervous system (‘rest and digest’).
Legs up wall yoga pose benefits (Continued)…
3. Soothes painful muscles and joints and swelling ankles and feet.
When you rush around or sit at a desk for lengthy periods, your joints and spinal column might become squeezed and drained of fluid, resulting in more significant aches and pains. A few minutes of Viparita Karani practice can help relieve strain on the lower back and feelings of heaviness and exhaustion in the feet, legs, and hips. For those who have swollen ankles and feet, this posture can help to minimize swelling and discomfort.
Who should take on this pose?
While Viparita Karani is a peaceful and safe posture for most individuals, there are times when it is preferable to avoid it or practice a different variation in which you are not resting fully flat on your back. This includes being pregnant, having glaucoma, or having untreated high blood pressure.
If you cannot practice this position, a treatment and supported Savasana with cushions and blankets supporting the body is an excellent alternative for easing yourself into deep relaxation. You can gently raise your feet on a cushion or yoga blocks to help stimulate the glymphatic system, which will still provide significant advantages.
Legs up wall yoga pose: How to Do It
If you have a five or 10-minute break during the workday, I highly recommend including Viparita Karani. Just as posture reverses and rebalances components of the physical and energy body, it’s also an excellent method to shift your state of mind and give yourself a much-needed rest, allowing you to return to your day feeling rejuvenated and relaxed.
The Hatha Yoga Pradipika recommends regularly practising in the morning, but it also works well as a means to decompress and de-stress in the evening.
- To begin, position a yoga mat against a wall with the short edge against the wall.
- Set a timer for somewhere between 5 and 20 minutes (start with just a couple of minutes if you have never practised before).
- Sit on the mat with your back against the wall, then roll over and lie down so your legs can extend up the wall.
- Your legs should be comfy here, so shuffle closer to or further away from the wall as needed.
- Concentrate on deep, steady breathing, shifting your focus from your feet to your head on the inhale and from your head to your feet on the exhale.
- Hug your knees into your chest and roll to one side to exit the pose.
After a few moments, softly move into a Child’s pose, then slowly rise to a sitting position.
Thanks for reading our Yoga journal: Legs up wall yoga pose benefits
Shades of Yoga is a yoga teacher training company providing year round yoga teacher training in the following locations