To say I’m not a big fan of winter is a bit of an understatement. First, there’s, well, the frigid air. Need I say more? But to me, the hardest part of this time of year is that it marks the beginning of fighting off colds for the next six months. So, I was more than intrigued when Mark, my Hatha instructor at YYoga Harbourfront, recently touted the immune-boosting powers of legs-up-the-wall pose. Check out this yoga pose for what ails you:
Legs-up-the-wall (Sanskrit name: Viparita Karani) is a yoga pose that doesn’t feel like a pose at all. Just as it is described, this asana involves lying on the floor with your legs up a wall.
The easiest way to get into the posture is to sit sideways to a wall, placing your bum as close to the wall as possible. Then move your legs straight up the wall and lie down. You can lie on either a yoga mat or a blanket. Stretch your arms out to the side, with palms up. Breathe deeply and slowly from your belly. Start with a few minutes in the pose and work up to 15 minutes.
A variation is to do it away from the wall with your hips and buttocks supported on a bolster while your legs are in the air. (Check out these other options from Yoga Journal.)
In addition to fighting colds, the attributed benefits include helping with anxiety, menopause symptoms, digestive problems, arthritis, headaches, insomnia, varicose veins, high and low blood pressure, and the list goes on. (While it’s likely not all of these gains have been scientifically proven, my thinking is if it’s not dangerous, why not try it?)
How does this yoga pose for what ails you work?
Inverting your legs allows the blood to drain out of them, helping with circulation, swelling and tiredness. Inversions also stimulate lymphatic drainage, which improves the efficiency of the immune system, and opening your chest facilitates breathing to help with colds. And the deep breathing helps induce a relaxed state.
As with any exercise, check with your doctor before doing legs-up-the-wall pose. And, a big caution: this posture is not advised for those with glaucoma or other eye issues, head or neck problems, hernias or during menstruation.
So the next time you have a few moments at home to spare, consider putting your legs up the wall. While it’s best to do it meditatively, if the only time you can carve out is while watching The Blacklist, go for it. And who knows, it may just be the yoga pose for what ails you. (At the least, it will give you an excuse to lie down.)
Have you tried legs-up-the-wall pose? If so, I’d love to hear how it’s worked for you.