When I work with private yoga clients, we co-create homework assignments. These may include poses, breath work, and meditation. But there’s one pose that I recommend to everyone, since it always fits into at least one of the purposes that brought us to work together.
This pose is one I often teach in group classes, especially during the fall and winter months, when I know more people are experiencing seasonal affective disorder and missing the light.
It’s also one that I revisit when I’d like to slow down and take extra special care of myself. When I had a day job in a cubicle, I used to take my yoga mat to an office or empty conference room, and practice this one. I didn’t care if someone might come in. Just 5 minutes made me feel much more relaxed.
The pose is so simple. It’s called “legs up the wall.”
I often call it a magic pose because it’s helpful for so many things, from sleep disorders to hip tension to back pain. Because it’s passive, it’s also a great opportunity to observe your emotions and practice mindfulness.
To get into the pose, sit on the ground or the bed, with one of your hips close to the wall. Lean back, bringing your weight into your hands or forearms, and gently swing both of your legs up to rest against the wall.
You want to be as comfortable as possible, without any muscular work to maintain the pose. If your legs aren’t staying put, try scooting closer to or farther from the wall. If that doesn’t do the trick, have someone place something heavy (but likely to stay put) onto the soles of your feet, like a big bag of rice.
Then lie back and relax deeply. Let this be a time of complete surrender.
Be here as long as you can, as often as you can. When you make your way out, bring your knees to your chest, and take plenty of time to roll to one side. If you’ve got something on your feet, come down slowly. Nothing breaks the mood like a bag of rice to the face!
Once you come down, take a minute to notice how you feel. Does your belly feel more relaxed? How is your back? What about your thoughts and emotions? How else can you let go?