Pose of the Month: Legs-up-the-Wall (Viparita Karani)

Hello, and welcome to our Pose of the Month!  November is the perfect month to try out a new, relaxing pose.  It will help with stress that seems to enter the air around holiday time.  For many of us, there will be travel, too much eating, and visiting with people we aren’t used to being around.  It all can be a joyous experience IF we take care of ourselves.  The best way to take care of Y-O-U is to (as always) start with the breath, and move the body into a beneficial (yoga) position.  Introducing Legs-up-the-Wall and it’s variations:

TO BEGIN:  Sit in a comfortable position, close or soften your eyes.  As you change your view of the world (by closing the eyes), your perspective will turn inward, onto you.  At this point, it is easier to feel the breath and it’s nuances (is it rushed, in the chest, heavier on the exhale, etc.).  Once you have taken a moment to relax into your seat, and your body feels more easeful, take fuller breaths, all the way down into the belly.  Feel as the belly expands with the inhale, and relaxes with the exhale (See: Diaphragmatic Breathing in detail here).  After spending some time (3-10 minutes) in this meditation, bring your attention back into the space around you, but keep AT LEAST half of your attention on YOU.

-4IMG_5115

SET-UP:  Sit next to a wall, with your hip touching it.  Lay on your side in a Fetal Position.  Scoot closer to the wall.  If your hamstrings and low back are feeling open, your sit bones can touch the wall.  Swing one leg up onto the wall and let the other follow.  NOTE: If your Sacrum (back of your pelvis, hips) is not touching the ground, and your low back is rounding, scoot away from the wall until the Lumbar Spine is neutral (meaning, there is a little curve) – VARIATIONS below.  If you feel strain in your neck, or the chin and forehead are not about level, place a blanket under the head (Be careful not to flatten the back of the neck when you add your head prop).  If your feet start tingling immediately, use one of the variations below, or try wiggling the toes until the body settles.  To Exit the pose, see below (last variation).

CAUTIONS:  It is recommended not to do this pose if you have pressure in the head, or eyes (Glaucoma); severe back or neck pain or injury; are on your menstrual cycle (try: Supta Badda Konasana); are feeling affects from high or low blood pressure.  If the pose doesn’t feel good, don’t do it.  You are the best judge of your body, as you’ve been taking care of it for your whole life.  Trust yourself.  That said, if you truly have no idea, ask a doctor or yoga teacher who is familiar with your practice and symptoms.

VARIATIONS:Knees Bent –

If you are too close to the wall and you scoot away, but the pose still isn’t comfortable or your knees are locking, try bending the knees and placing the feet on the wall.-8

Badda Konasana –

If you want a hip stretch, try bending the knees and splaying them out to the side while the soles of the feet touch.IMG_5111

Upavista Konasana –

If you want to deepen the hip stretch, straighten the legs.  Open the legs as wide as feels comfortable.  Be mindful of locking knees.  You may want to stack blocks, phone books or pillows under the thighs to hold the legs here without causing strain in the hips or knees, if you’re staying for many minutes.-3

Cross Legs –

This is a good variation of Badda Konasana, or also a good option before coming out of the pose.  Pause here for 1-2 minutes before exit.-1

Fetal Position (The Exit) –

Once you have been in the pose and any variations for 5-20 minutes, bend the knees and either place feet on wall or cross legs for 1-2 minutes.  Then roll to your side for 1-2 minutes.  Sit up with eyes closed.  Notice the breath, the mindset, the body.-9

BENEFITS:  The beauty of this pose during the holidays is that it will help stimulate the digestive organs (for when you eat too much, or the food doesn’t agree with you), as well as the reproductive organs.  Viparita Karani sends blood to the brain, which stimulates the mind and brings you into a meditative state – It can either make you more alert or calmer, depending on what you need (notice how it works for you, and how that changes each time).  It carries blood to the heart, which improves overall circulation.  It is deeply calming and relaxing for the nervous system.  In order to reek all the benefits, prop for your body.  If you need support under the hips, use pillows or blankets or a block/phone book.  If you’re cold, put a blanket over you, if your legs keep slipping apart, drape a blanket over the feet or wrap a strap or tie around the shins.  This pose works best when you feel supported and comfortable.  Take the time to set-up and you won’t regret it!

Namaste!  Happy Thanksgiving!

Love,

Siesta Yoga

**Check out Stretch & Restore (every Wednesday at 7:30pm) or our monthly Restorative practice (one Sunday per month at 7:30pm) with Brandee to be guided through this pose!

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