Viparita Karani: Your Step-by-Step Guide to Legs Up the Wall Pose

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Legs Up the Wall, or Viparita Karani, is one of yoga’s most soothing and relaxing postures. It’s a gentle posture that can be practiced by just about anyone, anytime, anywhere. This simple inversion utilizes a wall to stretch your legs up on to allow gravity to slowly and gently assist venous return. Here’s a step-by-step guide to two versions of Legs Up the Wall Pose.

Legs Up the Wall, or Viparita Karani, is one of the most soothing and relaxing postures from the yogic repertoire. This simple inversion utilizes a wall to stretch your legs up on to allow gravity to slowly and gently assist venous return.

It’s a gentle posture that can be practiced by just about anyone, anytime, anywhere—as long as you have something to place your legs up onto!

Here’s Your Step-by-Step Guide to Legs Up the Wall (Viparita Karani)

Viparita Karani or Legs Up the Wall Pose with lots of props and one bolster for the hips.

This soothing posture feels absolutely amazing once you’re in it. Still, maneuvering the entry can be tricky, especially when you’re utilizing lots of props to support the shape. But with a little bit of technique, you can easily enter this posture to surrender into a state of relaxing bliss.

  1. Place your yoga mat next to a wall with lots of open space. Make sure there are no TVs, framed pictures, or wall decor blocking your wall space.
  2. Come to sit next to the wall with your right hip pressing against it and your knees bent with your feet on the floor. 
  3. Place your hands behind your hips and lean your weight into them to lift your feet off the floor. 
  4. Swivel on your seat to face the wall and lift your legs up on it to rest against it. Simultaneously, release the weight of your torso onto the floor and relax downward. 
  5. Place your hands in any comfortable position and soften the weight of your legs down toward the floor. 
  6. Hold for as long as you’d like, gently focusing on your breath and slowing its rhythm as you allow gravity to assist venous return.

Here’s Your Step-by-Step Guide to a Shoulderstand Variation of Legs Up the Wall (Viparita Karani)

 A Shoulder Stand

There are other variations of Legs Up the Wall that are equally as relaxing. This version mimics the shape of Shoulderstand Pose (Salamba Sarvangasana) in a more supported position. This is a great alternative if practicing Shoulderstand is not in your wheelhouse or if you’d prefer a more relaxing version of that inversion.

  1. Place your yoga mat next to a wall with lots of open space. Make sure there are no TVs, framed pictures, or wall decor blocking your wall space.
  2. Place a yoga bolster with the long edge of it parallel to and about 2 to 3 inches away from the wall. Have another bolster within arm’s reach just in case you’d like extra height once you come into the shape.
  3. Have a blanket or pillow nearby if you’d like neck support once you’re in the shape.
  4. Come to sit on your bolster next to the wall with your right hip pressing against it and your knees bent with your feet on the floor. 
  5. Place your hands behind your hips and lean your weight into them to lift your feet off the floor. 
  6. Swivel on your seat to face the wall and lift your legs up on it to rest against it. Simultaneously, release the weight of your torso onto the floor and relax your torso downward. 
  7. The tops of your shoulders should be resting on the floor, and your abdomen should be horizontal, not sloping down toward your shoulders. A sloping abdomen can cause neck and shoulder stress. If this is happening, leave the pose and move your bolster another inch or so away from the wall. Then reenter the pose.
  8. Place your hands in any comfortable position and soften the weight of your legs toward the floor and your hips into your bolster.
  9. Option to stay as you are, or if you’d like to elevate your hips even higher, you can take your second bolster and slide it underneath your hips on top of your other bolster. This will place your body into an incline that is similar to Shoulderstand.
  10. Option to slide your blanket or pillow underneath your neck for extra support and comfort.
  11. Hold for as long as you’d like, gently focusing on your breath and slowing its rhythm as you allow gravity to assist venous return.

Play With Different Variations of Viparita Karani to Find Your Favorite 

These are just two classic ways to play with Viparita Karani, but there are so many unique ways that you could practice any posture at all for varying benefits and effects.

Give these two options a try, and then experiment with other ways to practice this simple shape to find the variation of this posture that you like best so you can continue to reap the many benefits of Legs Up the Wall.

Video Practice: Try These Two Variations of Legs Up the Wall Pose

 

Leah Sugerman, E-RYT 500, YACEP, yoga writer

Leah Sugerman is a yoga teacher, writer, and passionate world traveler. An eternally grateful student, she has trained in countless schools and traditions of the practice. She teaches a fusion of the styles she has studied with a strong emphasis on breath, alignment, and anatomical integrity. Leah teaches workshops, retreats, and trainings, both internationally and online. For more information, visit www.leahsugerman.com.

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