Put Your Feet Up (literally)
Even if you don’t like yoga or meditation, there is one very simple posture that I truly believe is magical for everyone – it’s called Legs Up the Wall or Viparita Kirani (in Sanskrit). If there were such a thing as love at first pose then that would be me with this posture. To do Viparita Kirani all you need to do is find a piece of wall, next to your bed or on some carpet, and then lie down on your back on the floor (or the bed), with your hips pressed against the wall and swing your legs straight up the wall. Keep your legs together and allow your feet to relax down towards the ground. If your hamstrings are too tight to straighten your legs, then just shift your hips back from the wall and bend your knees as much as you need to. Over time, as your flexibility increases, you will be able to make your way towards straight legs. Your arms can rest down by your side with your palms facing up, on your lower belly or up above your head – wherever feels most comfortable.
Now once you have taken this posture, close down your eyes and start to focus your awareness on your breath. The beauty of this posture is truly in its effortlessness and relaxation. Keep breathing slowly and deeply, filling your chest and belly. Stay here for at least five minutes, but up to 20 minutes if you like. With each exhalation allow the body to relax and melt a little more down into the bed/floor.
This posture is the one I recommend that everyone do at home every day. If you only do one yoga posture, this is it. I particularly love to do it after a long day when I get to bed. Not only does it allow me to enter a meditative state very quickly, but it also gives my feet a rest (needed after walking around all day) and allows me to relax before sleep. After some time in this posture you may find your feet and legs go a little numb and tingly – don’t worry this is normal. If it becomes uncomfortable simply bend your knees down into your chest and wiggle your toes.
And the best part? This posture, whilst incredibly simple, is wonderfully therapeutic and healing. It is a gentle inversion, meaning the body is turned upside down. Inversions are known to be good for your heart health, longevity and vitality. In fact, this is so much so that this posture is also called the Fountain of Youth posture and is renowned traditionally for preventing the effects of ageing. With your legs up the wall it allow all of the lymph fluid and blood that gets stuck in the vessels during the day to drain back into the chest cavity where it is recycled and rejuvenated. It also allows all of your muscles to completely relax and repair any damage. The relaxation of this posture allows you to activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which switches all the cells into ‘rest and restore’ mode.
All in all, this posture is just pure goodness. I guarantee that if you start practicing this every morning and night, you will notice a difference in yourself. It is well worth the little pockets of time and is perfect when you are busy and just need to put your feet up for a moment! ;)