Legs up the wall

written by Kerry Gustafson

We're working through a lot of details to open up the Prime Sports Institute this fall. Kerry and I have had to become extra proactive in our own self care routine.

Sleep is essential. Yet sometimes it's hard to tell your brain to turn off.

One thing we've been doing at night before we get in bed is to put our legs up the wall.

It's an actual restorative yoga pose called, Viparita Karani.


  • 1
    Sit on the floor with one shoulder near the wall and your thighs parallel to the wall
  • 2
    Roll onto your back and swing your legs up the wall
  • 3
    Keep your legs straight and relaxed
  • 4
    Support your head and neck with a towel or blanket keeping the back of your neck long
  • 5
    Extend your arms out to the side with your hands in line with your shoulders


  • Place a bolster (or similar support) under your hips so your low back is slightly arched
  • If your hamstrings are tight, separate your legs so your feet are hip width apart
  • Try using a yoga strap around your thighs to let your muscles really relax
  • check
    Place an eye-bag over your eyes for deeper relaxation


  • Take several cycles of long, smooth, slow breaths
  • Imagine all the tension and fluid in your legs draining down, with a feeling of lightness and softness with each breath
  • Feel total support from the floor and total openness of the chest


  • 1
    Remove the support you've used during the pose - either the belt from around your thighs or the bolster underneath your hips.
  • 2
    Let your legs slide down the wall  
  • 3
    Rest with the bottoms of your feet together with your knees wide or with your ankles crossed
  • 4
    Roll to one side and rest for a few breaths
  • 5
    Use the strength of your arms to come back to a seated position


  • reduce swelling and fatigue in the legs - particularly beneficial if you've been on your feet all day, had a day of travel, or had a long day of training and racing
  • reverses the systemic effects of stress and promotes relaxation
  • you may find it helps you go to sleep faster and sleep more deeply


  • Not recommended for people who should avoid inversions: hiatal hernias, eye pressure, retinal problems, heart problems, neck problems, during menstruation. (If you have any concerns about practicing inversions, consult your physician)
  • If you feel discomfort in your low back try bending your knees and place the bottoms of your feet on the wall or cross your ankles loosely
  • Avoid if it creates pressure in the head, after the third month of pregnancy, or if you are at risk for miscarriage

* Resource: Relax and Renew by Judith Lasater, Ph.D., P.T.

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