Our flat in Munich is a ways out of the city and U-Bahn construction at the closest station means that cycling is the most efficient method for getting around. It’s been a long time since I’ve done any pedalling and my leg muscles are struggling with this newfound exertion.
Thankfully, our flat has a lovely open wall that’s perfect for my favourite restorative yoga pose – legs up the wall. Pair the leg-relaxing posture with a glass of wine and the strain in my lower body disappears!
The pose itself is super-easy (see my how-to in a previous post) – the most difficult part is managing the glass! I’m careful to make sure the wine is safe coming into and out of legs up the wall and set the glass within easy reach for the 10-15 minutes I’m laying on the floor.
Sipping while supine is challenging, but the relaxation is well worth it!
After focusing on teaching yoga for over a year, I’m feeling restless… I’m looking for a change. I’m not sure what direction I’m heading, but I know that I’ll need space to let it unfold.
To give myself time to focus on what’s coming next and to determine what I want that to look like, I’m cutting back on my teaching commitments.
Starting in February, I’ll be teaching just three classes a week at Bound Lotus Yoga & Meditation Centre: Hatha on Mondays from 9:15-1045am, Yin on Fridays from 6:30-7:45pm, and Hatha on Saturdays from 11:15am-12:30pm.
That means that I’ll be teaching my last Tuesday night Yin class at Bound Lotus tonight. If you’re able to, I’d love to have you join me for some of my favourite yin yoga poses (that means dragons, supported fish, and legs up the wall!) and a lovely savasana that will bring you beautifully sweet dreams!
And I promise David Bowie won’t be in the playlist… although his song Changes has certainly been stuck in my head today! It’s time for me to “Turn and face the strange” and find a balance of being challenged and being comfortable.
If you only ever do one yoga pose, make it legs up the wall. It’s one of the easiest postures and is the foundation for many restorative yoga practices. It’s fabulous after a hike, run, long-walk, cycle, or anything that works your legs.
All it takes is nestling your bum next to a wall and swinging your legs up; once your legs are up the wall, relax and let your back body sink into the floor. That’s it!
It was immeasurably helpful for me after an accidental 8-hour hike in China this fall – luckily the hostel bed was tucked right against the wall so my back was well-cushioned!
I’ve included step-by-step instructions below.
Legs up the wall pose
Why it’s good
- Encourages healing throughout the body by stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system
- Slows the stress-induced sympathetic nervous system – our fight or flight reflex
- Activates the body’s relaxation response; lowering the resting heart rate, slowing breathing, and decreasing the production of stress hormones
- Brings fresh blood and lymph fluid into the abdomen and internal organs
- Relieves tension in the lower back and sacrum
- Reduces swelling, tension, and stress in feet and legs
- Raises the feet above the heart; reversing effects of gravity, improving heart function, and allowing the heart to rest
How to do it
- Sit on the floor with the side of your hip against a wall or a closed door
- Swing your legs up the wall, pressing your bum into the corner where the floor and the wall meet
- Lower your back to the floor and lean your heels against the wall
- If keeping your legs straight is too much for your hamstrings, slide your bum away from the wall and bend your knees slightly
- Your spine should be perpendicular to the wall with your back on the floor
- Rest your arms alongside your body, lengthen them out in a “T” shape, or extend them over your head for more of a chest and back stretch
- Let go of the tension in your legs and pelvis
- Make it even easier by strapping your ankles together (try a bathrobe belt or an elastic exercise band if you don’t have a yoga strap) so you don’t have to work to keep your legs close together
- Add a folded blanket under your hips or head if you need more padding to be comfortable
- Breathe into your belly and relax everything
- Hang out in this posture for 5-20 minutes – try to relax for at least five minutes
To come out of legs up the wall:
- Bend your knees and slide the soles of your feet along the wall towards your bum
- Remove anything you’re using to hold your legs together and press your lower back into the floor for a couple breaths
- Squeeze your knees into your chest and roll from side to side on your back to release any tension in your lower back
- Roll to one side and slowly come up to a seated position
- Breathe deeply for at least three breaths to allow the blood to settle back into your body and prevent getting a head rush when you stand up