Pose of the Month: Heavy Legs on the Wall

Viparita Karani

This month we will learn about a therapeutic yoga pose and a pose which is highly touted in the yoga community as the "destroyer of old age." This pose is said to rid all that ails you and is very easy to perform for people of all levels and all ages.

How to: Heavy Legs on the Wall


For this very passive pose, you will need a wall. Lie on the floor and simply walk your buttocks all the way up against the wall. Your legs will extend straight up the wall. If you have very tight hamstrings, then you may walk your hips about 6 inches away from the wall, or you can have a bend in the knee. With consistent practice over time, you will have your legs straight. Some schools of yoga teach the practitioner to put a soft roll under the sacrum (lowest part of the back).

Arms can be out to your sides, palms face up. Arms can also be extended straight out of the shoulder having a 90 degree bend in the elbow, palms facing up. Once in place lift your head gently off the floor and tuck the chin to the chest then extend the back of the neck as you replace the head on the floor . Soften your eyes and be very heavy in the floor. Stay in the pose from 1 to 15 minutes.

To come out of the pose, slowly bend your knees and roll over on to your right side, curling up into a fetal position. Linger for a few breaths and then press up until seated.

Benefits of Heavy Legs on the Wall

It is a pretty bold statement to say this pose "destroys" old age. More modern schools of thought say most noticeable benefits include:

  • Aids anxiety, arthritis, headaches and insomnia
  • Aids digestive problems, mild depression and varicose veins
  • Aids menstrual cramps, PMS and menopausal symptoms
  • Helps regulate blood pressure
  • Relieves tired cramped legs
  • Gently stretches hamstrings and back of the neck
  • Calms the mind
For the lay person or Yogi, Heavy Legs on the Wall benefits are vast. It is a great alternative for those who are trying to start a meditation practice. It is considered an excellent restorative pose. It is usually practiced at the end of a class or in place of final resting pose. People who experience leg edema will find that Viparita Karani eliminates the painful "full" feeling in the legs and feet.

For the athlete, this pose is great 24 to 48 hours following a tough game or workout. Many athletes, especially those who depend greatly on the strength and stamina of the legs, will benefit with this pose. Often athletes complain of the heavy or "dead" leg feeling they get after grueling days on the field. This will alleviate that feeling. Just like the lay person or yogi, an athlete will benefit from the lymph drainage action of this pose.

When a person is too sore to run or do their normal activities, lymph collects in the feet. This can swell a person's hands and feet. But sitting in the Heavy Legs position is much more effective and relaxing than just putting your feet up.

Although you should always consult your physician and research a properly-trained yoga teacher before starting a yoga practice, there are a few instances where you should avoid this pose entirely:

  • if you have history of serious eye problems such as glaucoma
  • if you have serious neck issues
  • certain people during menstruation
Have fun exploring this pose and learning about your body.
Gwen Lawrence has been a practicing fitness professional since 1990. Her current practice includes private yoga training, class instruction and her sport-specific Power Yoga for Sports training program www.poweryogaforsports.com. Gwen's unique combination of dance, massage and yoga training experience, coupled with her extensive knowledge of anatomy, nutrition and homeopathy, provide her clients, class participants and athletes with overwhelming benefits. Gwen is the yoga instructor for several New York Yankees baseball players, team yoga instructor for the New York Giants, New York Knicks, New York Red Bulls, and the Pace University baseball team; as well as many youth teams in a variety of sports. She is also the official spokesperson for AFRIN PureSea. Visit her website at www.poweryogaforsports.com

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