Want better sleep? You might want to try yoga. A Harvard study on insomnia found that people who consistently practiced yoga for just eight weeks slept better and longer than those who didn’t practice.
If you’re too busy to fit in some yoga, the good news is that you can improve your sleep with just one pose: Legs-Up-The-Wall (Viparita Karani). This asana is considered a restorative, gentle inversion and though it’s usually practiced at the end of a yoga class, it can be helpful on its own to relax the body.
And when you’re able to relax the body, it becomes easier to relax the mind, setting the stage for more restful sleep. Practice Legs-Up-The-Wall at night before getting into bed, or in the middle of the night when sleep is elusive. Add in some gentle breathing and the effects are even better! This pose can be practiced by beginners and beyond.
How to do Legs Up the Wall Pose (Viparita Karani) :
- Sit next to the wall with your hip touching the wall and knees bent.
- Start to lean onto your hands or forearms, as you swing your legs up the wall. If your hamstrings are more flexible, you may be able to place your legs comfortably up the wall with your butt touching the wall. If you are tighter in your hamstrings, you will be further away from the wall. Find a position for you that’s comfortable, so you can stay there for 5-10 minutes.
- Keep your legs relaxed, so you don’t feel like you’re holding them up.
- Let your arms release in a way that feels good for you – arms extended by your sides, hands on your belly, or above your head if it feels okay on your shoulders and neck.
- Lengthen your neck out, and relax your face. Close your eyes. Relax your jaw. Let your tongue hang heavy in your mouth.
- Stay here for 5 minutes, and over time, build up to 10+ minutes at a time.
- Come slowly out of the pose. It’s quite a restorative pose, so take your time easing out of it. It’s okay to be gentle with yourself, and move slowly, especially in our fast paced life.
Benefits of Legs Up the Wall Pose:
- Regulates blood flow
- Alleviates menstrual cramps
- Relieves swollen ankles and varicose veins
- Helps testicular, semen, and ovarian problems in men and women respectively
- Improves digestion
- Restores tired feet or legs
- Stretches the back of the neck, front torso, and back of the legs
- Improves problems of the eyes and ears
- Relieves mild backache
- Provides migraine and headache relief, especially when done with a bandage wrapped tightly around the forehead and back of the skull
- Helps keep you young and vital
- Calms anxiety
- Relieves symptoms of mild depression and insomnia