#28daysofyin Day 23 - Pushing the Wall with Your Legs!
#28daysofyin Legs Up The Wall. So simple. So good. I recommend pretty much all my students practice this daily before bed, it’s the best ever for your everything! In all seriousness, Legs Up the Wall is soothing for the nervous system and a beautiful resting pose for the legs. This pose works wonders if you walk/stand a lot and is great for helping you get a peaceful night's sleep, for helping circulation by taking pressure off the venous return and gently stressing the heart (exercising while lying down!), getting some blood to the brain, draining the lymph, nourishing the pelvic and abdominal organs, gently stretching the hamstrings, relieving tired legs, relaxing the lower back, switching on your parasympathetic nervous system (rest + restore), resting your adrenals and reducing anxiety. It is also amazing for balancing hormones. So many benefits! The Urinary Bladder meridian in back of legs and Kidney meridian around the sacrum get special attention, you can see the posts on those meridians from a week or so back, as well as the post on the Water element. This pose is called Viparita Karani in Sanskrit, viparita meaning “inverted" or "reversed,” and karani means “in action” or "doing.” We can interpret that to mean that the pose reverses the typical actions that happen in our bodies when we sit and stand. If you are stressed, fatigued, or jet-lagged, this pose is really yummy. But like all Yin poses, all that stuff is awesome, sure, but the real gift of the practice is that it teaches us, via our direct experience and perception, that positive results can come from doing less, not more. This is the ‘Law of Reversed Effort,’ one of the ‘Lores of Yin’ that I teach, a turn of phrase I stole from Alan Watts (lore, not law, right; stories to teach us things rather than rules to follow). He writes, "When you try to stay on the surface of the water, you sink; but when you try to sink, you float.” Many of us have been trained to believe we must work hard in order to reap the benefits of any effort, whether it is practicing yoga, in a relationship, or running a business. And, of course, that is useful and appropriate advice at times. But Yin Yoga offers a paradigm>>
shift in how to approach the notion of ‘work,' in both yoga and life. And this (plus the benefits of increasing circulation (chi+blood) to the tissues and the opportunity to be still and internally aware) is why I love Yin so much. As yoga guru Cyndi Lee puts it, "The benefits of Viparita Karani derive not just from inverting an action but also from inverting the whole notion of action. When you relax with your legs up the wall, you are practicing the polar opposite of activity, which is receptivity.” How to get into it: Sit on the floor, and sidle up to your favourite wall sideways. Lay your back down on the floor and place your legs up the wall, butt nice and close to the wall, legs long and hips relaxed. Heels stack over buttocks. Relax your lower back and belly. Let your femurs drop back into the hip sockets, heavy, as you relax your hip flexors. Let your hands rest beside your hips or on your belly, or one hand to heart, one to belly.Relax your neck, your jaw and your face. Use a pillow under the head if you need it. Breath slow and deep into your belly, and let yourself soften here. Stay for 5 - 20 minutes (start with 5!). Don’t worry if your legs get tingly, just feel it. To come out, bend your knees into your chest and roll to the side, give yourself hug and slowly come up to sit. If you’re super tight through the hamstrings, you can take the legs out wider, into more of a splits-like pose (see Wall Dragonfly from the earlier poses)>>>
or bend the knees and come into more of a Wall Squat. You can also tie something around your thighs to keep your legs from sliding apart, if that’s an issue for you. Some people like to elevate their hips in this pose (it’s lovely) - use a block, bolster or rolled up towel under your sacrum. Might take a big of wiggling to get there. Practice deep abdominal breathing while you are there. This practice reduces the heart rate, lowers blood pressure and can reduce feelings of anxiety and stress. It can help our body restore itself to health and to rest the nervous system. Place one hand on your belly and one hand on your heart. Take a deep breath in through your nose, ensuring the diaphragm (the hand on your belly) expands, stretching the lungs and gently pushing the belly up into your hand. The hand on the chest will not move until the very end of the breath. Pause for a moment with the body full of air, then release the breath SLOWLY. Try to keep the exhalation smooth and even. Pause for a moment with the body empty of air, then inhale deeply and evenly into the diaphragm. Aim to breathe nice and slow, so you’re taking about 5 to 10 breaths a minute. This is optimal for parasympathetic nervous system engagement. Try this every night before bed for a week and see if it makes any difference to you. Ciao yogis! legsupthewall #viparitakirani #yoga #yinyoga #yogaforall #yogalove #restorative #alanwatts