Yoga Lesson: Viparita Karani
Doing the yoga pose Legs Up the Wall (Viparita Karani) calms your nerves and can thus lessen stress and even encourage sleep, according to Larry Payne, Ph.D., coauthor of Yoga Rx (Broadway, 2005) and director of the Yoga Therapy Rx program at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you chill out.
1. Find a space of wall that is about three feet wide. Sit parallel to the wall with the right side of your body (shoulders, hips, and legs) gently resting against it, your legs straight out in front of you.
2. Bend your knees and lie down on your left side so you’re in a fetal position with your feet and seat touching the wall.
3. Roll onto your back and straighten your legs so the backs of them are resting against the wall.
4. Place your hands on your belly and breathe deeply, feeling your hands rise when you inhale and fall when you exhale. With each breath, exhale more slowly—breathing out is what relaxes you.
5. Stay in the posture for 3 to 5 minutes (gradually work up to 8 to 10 minutes), letting your torso sink into the floor. When you’re ready, repeat steps 1 through 3 in reverse to come back to standing.