Restore and renew: Legs up the wall step by step

This is my top thing to do to restore and renew my mind and body. Nothing else comes even close. I close the door, tune in to my favourite music and set myself ready for legs-up-the-wall (Viparita Karani). I place a lavender-scented eye bag across my brow, put my hands on my side, exhale long and peacefully, and then just be there. Sometimes just five minutes, often over 20. Sometimes I stay here alone in total silence, sometimes I enjoy some background music, sometimes I might even call my mum. Whatever feels good at that moment.

Postures where heart lies above head are especially restorative. That gives a little extra boost for our heart so it can pump easier. Keeping the legs high up the wall is especially effective for people who sit too much (sitting = slow dying…sigh). This soothing posture also calms the nervous system, eases muscle fatigue and helps to restore our often all too shallow and light breathing. Many yoga instructors offer it as an antidote to exhaustion, illness, and weakened immunity. So did mine as well and I am ever so grateful for this gift which I have learned to practise daily.

To get started you need two thickly folded blankets or a firm round bolster. I definitely prefer bolster because it’s firm enough for a long stay on the pose.

Legs up the wall: Step by step. Over to you!

Legs up the wall: Step by step. Over to you!

1. Place your bolster near a wall (only leave a gap of just a few inches).

2. Sit sideways on the bolster end with your right side against the wall and swing your legs up onto the wall. You will quickly find your natural way to wiggle into posture and find the right distance for your bolster/support.

3. Your pelvis should rest comfortably on the bolster. The blankets/bolster should support you from the top of your tailbone all the way to your mid-back so that your belly settles evenly. Test and try the right place. When it feels good, it probably is right.

4. Check that your upper body is balanced and open as well. Soften your throat. Don’t push your chin against your sternum. Open your shoulder blades. Release your hands and arms out to your sides, palms up.

5. Keep your legs relatively firm, just enough to hold them vertically in place. (Btw…I often move a bit my legs too, I might open them up and stretch a bit or shake a little, whatever feels good…I don’t treat yoga or the postures with too much rigidness. Instead I just trust my feelings and do what feels good.)

6. Stay in this pose as long as it feels good but I would recommend starting with baby steps. I got big cramps in the beginning after just 5 minutes because my legs were so stiff and unused to this pose.

7. Feel your belly going up and down. Give yourself a moment without any worries, duties or obligations. This is a posture where slow, deep, nourishing breathing comes most naturally to me.

8. Enjoy the stillness and the tickling in your legs.

9.  When you feel energized and ready for action, slide off the support onto the floor before turning to the side. Stay on your side for a few breaths, and come up.

10. Observe how you feel afterwards in your breath, mind and body.

If this is not your favourite restore & renew posture, go ahead and share yours!


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