Tired legs can result from too much walking, standing or exercising, but also can come from too much sitting! So, basically, your legs get tired from almost everything you do all day! Fortunately, there is a simple and easy pose that can make your legs feel better.
Viparita Karani, or Legs-Up-the-Wall pose, has wonderful benefits. The meaning is not literally “legs-up-the-wall”, but it really means “inverted action”, and just has been most commonly used as the name for this particular pose. In my teaching, I have adapted this pose for a more generalized population, by having the legs rest on the seat of a couch or chair, with the knees bent, instead of having the legs rising straight from the hips, going up a wall. The reason I alter the pose is that most people have a place at home where they can easily do this pose, and the straight legs on the wall can sometimes be uncomfortable for those who have very tight hamstrings, or hyper-extended knee joints, unless lots of straps, blocks and blankets are used. It is absolutely fine to use these props, but I find that the easier I make a pose, the more likely my students are to try it at home. Either way, the potential benefits are both restorative and relaxing. This simple pose can reduce stress, improve circulation in the lower body, reduce edema (swelling) in the legs, and can relieve lower back pain.
Legs-on-the-Couch pose, as I refer to it in my classes, is a pose everyone always loves to do. Luckily, in one of my classes, we use couches that we have moved to the perimeter of the room, but folding chairs work just as well. My students bring their mats and place them perpendicular to the couch. Then I have them sit on the floor, with one hip along the couch, and they swing their legs up, as they lie down, slowly. The goal is to have the backs of their thighs along the front of the couch, with their knees bent and the lower legs resting on the seat of the couch, with the sacral area on the floor. If that is not possible, either put a towel under the hips so they can fully settle and feel heavy, or move a few inches farther away from the couch. If a support is needed under the neck, I have them use a folded or rolled towel. Then, they relax with their arms by their sides and their legs gently flopping open. (see photo)
Once in this pose, we do basic breathing exercises, focusing on the ribcage expanding and contracting, pelvis being heavy, shoulder blades as flat at possible, and head relaxed. From this position, we also work on the Butterfly Pose (Badhakonasana) by bringing the knees out to each side with the bottoms of the feet coming together along the front of the couch, as low toward the groin as possible. This is a wonderful way to practice this pose since the back it stable and relaxed and you can really focus on opening the hips and inner thighs. We also do a series of other poses from this position that I will cover in a later blog.
So, find a spot in your home that you can comfortably use to put your feet up while lying on the floor, and RELAX!!! Try to stay in this pose for 5-20 minutes and see how great you feel!! Sometimes the easy poses are ignored and yet, can provide the most consistent benefits!
If you have any questions or comments, or want to preview a copy of my Yoga for Arthritis DVD, my Yoga for MS DVD, or my book, Yoga for Fibromyalgia: Move, Breathe and Relax to Improve Your Quality of Life, feel free to email me at email@example.com. These are all also available at Amazon.com.