Updated: Oct 13, 2019
A simple, stress-busting pose, Viparita Karani (also known as Legs-Up-the-Wall Pose) can soothe you to sleep.
People often ask me what they can to do fall asleep more easily. I have several recommendations to get a better night’s sleep (including going to bed by 10 p.m.), but when it comes to yoga, my go-to pose to relax your way to sleep is Viparita Karani, or Legs-Up-the-Wall Pose.
A grounding, nourishing pose with many benefits, including helping to relieve headaches and low back pain, anxiety, depression, varicose veins and more, Legs-Up-the-Wall Pose, is a mild inversion that reverses the effects that gravity has on your feet and legs, helping to redirect blood flow so that you can peacefully sink into slumber.
If on a typical day you sit, stand or walk, your legs are used to being lower than your heart. In Legs-Up-the-Wall Pose, your legs are, well, literally up a wall. Legs aren’t used to being there, but it’s oh-so-restorative to your entire body and mind.
Practice this pose anywhere, at any time—whether you’re at home tonight in your bedroom or in a hotel room on vacation or traveling for work.
Practice It: Legs-Up-the-Wall Pose
Find some wall space or practice against the headboard of a bed.
Sit with the left side of your body next to a wall or headboard with your knees bent.
Roll to your back, settling your back and head on the ground or bed.
Begin to straighten your legs and inch forward so the back of your legs are touching the wall or headboard.
Keep your feet active by flexing your ankles, drawing your toes toward your nose.
There are so many options for your arms! - Place one hand on your heart and the other on your belly. - Place both hands on your belly. - Rest your arms alongside your body with your palms facing up. - Rest your arms in a “T.” - Bend your elbows so they are aligned with your shoulders with the back of your hands resting on the ground. - Try all of these arm options and see what feels best for you.
Stay here for at least a few minutes, building up to 5 minutes, and then eventually up to 15 or 20 minutes.
When it’s time to come out of the pose, bend your knees and begin to wiggle away from the wall or headboard, rolling to your left side to pause before coming up to a seated position.
Optional additions: Fold a blanket and place it under your hips to elevate them. A soft bolster under the sit bones works well, too. You can also place a folded blanket under your head as a cushion.
Learn dozens of other yoga poses (with photos, too) to help you live well in my award-winning book 108 Yoga and Self-Care Practices for Busy Mamas.