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One of the most effective restorative yoga poses is called Feet Up the Wall Pose or Viparita Karani.  This is one of the easiest ways to turn yourself upside down without having to do a handstand or headstand and it’s just as, if not more than beneficial for the mind and body.

This is a wonderful pose to do if you are stressed, have anxiety or depression or are just looking to see a different perspective on a problem.  The idea is to melt into the floor and just let go.

Here are the key benefits from this pose:

  • Down regulates the sympathetic nervous system
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Lowers heart rate
  • Relaxes the mind
  • Alleviates low back pain
  • Promotes lymphatic drainage
  • Stretches the back of your legs
  • Improves circulation
  • Improves sleep

To move into the posture:

  • Place the short side of a yoga mat or blanket at a wall.  If your neck is tight, have another blanket available on a low fold for your head.
  • Sit with your knees bent and right hip as close to the wall as possible on the left edge of your mat.
  • Slide your right hand/arm behind you to the floor (it will feel a bit scrunchy).
  • Start to roll onto your back and to the right and swing your legs up onto the wall.  You want your buttocks as close to the wall as possible.
  • Let your hips/buttocks release to the floor.  Place your hands in a comfortable position at your side or on your belly.
  • Practice slow deep breaths while you are in the posture.
  • Close your eyes and rest for 10-15 minutes.

To move out of the posture:

  • Remember you have been upside down!
  • Bend your knees into your chest and carefully roll over to one side.  STAY HERE FOR 1-2 MINUTES TO LET THE BLOOD REBALANCE IN THE BODY.  Getting up too quickly can cause light headedness.
  • Use your top hand to slowly press up to sitting.  Sit against the wall for a few breaths before moving on with your day.

Things that might get in your way and how to navigate them:

  1.  Tight Hamstrings
    1. If you can stay on the wall keep your knees slightly bent or place a pillow or two behind your knees
    2. Move away from the wall and just lift your legs to the sky keeping your knees bent
    3. If being on the wall is too much try constructive rest instead:  place your lower legs over your couch, bed or a chair so that your knees and hips are in a 90 degree angle
  2. Sinus pressure or congestion
    1. Try elevating your head a bit or placing a pillow from your low back to your head
    2. Practice when you are less congested

Other options while you are on the wall

  1. Butterfly Legs
    1. Place the soles of your feet together with the knees pointing out to deepen the groin stretch
  2. Wide angle legs
    1. Slide your straight legs down the wall into a wide angle for a groin/adductor stretch
  3. Place a strap just above your knees to keep your legs together
  4. Place a sandbag or folded blanket on your feet to release the head of the femur into the hip socket
  5. Wrap a blanket around your feet and legs for warmth and support

Things to be cautious of:

  1. If you have uncontrolled (unmedicated) high blood pressure, glaucoma or an inguinal hernia avoid this posture.
  2. Your legs and feet might fall asleep while you are here.

Try this practice before you go to bed each night and you might find yourself more restful in the morning.