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Viparita Karani (Legs-up-the-Wall pose)

On my street next to Jerusalem’s beautiful Haas Promenade it is not uncommon to see bus drivers taking a break in their bus’s shaded storage area.  But this morning I saw something that made me really happy. This bus driver’s successful hack of legs-up-the-wall pose illustrates the place where listening to your body, good instincts, sound  ergonomics, and yoga meet.

When I complimented the driver, he answered me ” I deliberately chose this pose to get the blood flowing.”  Nothing like a good inversion to restore tired feet and legs.

Benefits of Legs-up-the-Wall Pose

As part of a yoga practice  Viparita Karani, legs-up-the-wall pose is beneficial for regulating blood pressure and relieving tired feet and legs.  It’s also great for de-stressing by sending an unequivocal message to your central nervous system that you are in rest and digest mode.

Sometimes we raise the hips slightly above the heart to increase the circulatory benefits of the inversion.  However, I wouldn’t recommend crossing your ankles as in the photo above when you’re trying to improve circulation.

Interestingly, I incorporated this pose into my own practice just recently to alleviate lower back pain after standing much of the day during Yom Kippur prayers.

The pillow under the driver’s neck and shoulders supports an opening of his chest muscles which would naturally tighten from sitting hunched at his steering wheel all day.  The pillow supports the natural curve of his neck too. His arms are resting easy at this sides.  Open hip extensors reverse hours of sitting. Opened chest allows his breath to deepen essentially setting the reset button on his relaxation response.

Coming into Balance

While you may not see yourself doing this under your desk at work, it’s a great example of a hacked restorative pose that reverses the risks of sedentary behaviour. Being aware of what our body needs to come into balance is the best first step to preventing injury and prolonging our work life.