...especially around the holiday season.
Viparita Karani (legs up the wall pose) is my go-to when I am feeling stressed out, anxious, overwhelmed, or just need a few moments to tune in to my body and find deep relaxation.
This gentle, supported inversion has many benefits. Here are a few:
- reverses the effects of gravity
- slows down heart rate, which can help with insomnia
- targets the parasympathetic nervous system (rest & digest)
- replenishes the upper body with blood and lymph fluid, which can accumulate in the lower half of the body. This, in turn, enhances heart function. (I learned this in Relax and Renew by Judith Lasater, a great resource for restorative yoga).
It is crucial, especially in times like these, to carve out space in your day (even five minutes) to settle into stillness and quiet; to drop into the waters of your body and be present with the nourishing wave of your breath as it rinses away any residue or build up in the body and mind. To slow down is to illuminate our inner landscape and connect with/heal our internal processes.
How to get into the pose:
Saddle up next to a wall. It can be helpful to get into the pose sideways. Scoot your butt as close as you can to the wall, lay on your back and slide your feet up the wall. You may need to re-wiggle yourself closer so you make full contact with the wall. Your arms can rest by your side, with your palms facing up, or you can reach your arms overhead.
Traditionally, the legs are together and pointing toward the sky. You can play with moving your legs away from each other for an inner hip/thigh stretch. You can also bring the soles of your feet together and knees wide for a bound angle variation.
- a blanket or bolster under your lower back/hips
- a blanket under your head
- a sandbag or weight over your feet
- a little bit of weight over your low belly (bolster or blanket)
- an eye pillow
Other sweet additions:
- soothing music
- essential oils (I like to use peppermint, eucalyptus or lemon this time of year)
- candles or incense
- a diffuser (which can be really nice this time of year)
- a breathing practice or other technique (visualization, silently repeating a mantra) to focus the mind while you are resting.
Whether you keep it simple or add to your relaxation time, just remember that you deserve to care for yourself and replenish your system. Even five minutes can be enough to fill you back up and feel revitalized, which will benefit your own well-being and those around you.
Wishing you a happy holiday with less stress and more ecstatic calm.