Legs up the Wall

In my top 10 favorite ways of moving my body, I hold a special place for Legs up the Wall.

The American Chiropractic Association indicates that at any given time 3.1 million Americans are experiencing back pain. In my movement class last night I asked how many of the attendees experience back pain. Every single hand went up in the room and these were students all under the age of 20.

We don’t always know where back pain comes from but some frequent factors include alignment problems, tight/weak muscles and stress. We sit too much as a culture and we don’t move our bodies in ways they are meant to be moved. Our hip flexors, hamstrings and psoas muscles are short, tight and weak.

The solution is to both move more, in the form of walking – taking short breaks in your day so you don’t spend 8 hours straight sitting down – and in finding ways to let tight muscles relax.

Legs up the wall allows muscles in the low back to relax deeply and it also stretches the hamstrings as they extend up the wall. Because the pose involves reversing your orientation in space, there are additional benefits of lowered blood pressure and reversing the flow of lymph in the legs. This is also an awesome pose for people who have trouble with insomnia. 10 minutes with your legs up the wall before bed will help you fall asleep!

Here’s how to get into the pose

Sit with the side of your near a wall:

Swing your torso down to the ground and your legs up the wall (there really is no graceful way to do this):

Once your upper half is down on the floor and your legs are up the wall, turn your attention to your pelvis. We’d like to have your sacrum on the ground and the natural curve in your low back. For many of us that means our bum will NOT be right up against the wall. Move as far back as you need to, to find a neutral pelvis. Have your feet about hip width apart. You can turn your palms to face up, helping to open the front of the chest:

Once you are there stay at least 5 minutes, close your eyes and just breathe as your body lets go and you relax!

You can take this pose deeper by moving the legs to explore how the leg bone relates to the hip socket (crucial for how we walk and how the pelvis moves in the body). You can also explore moving the arms to find the connection between shoulder girdle, spine and pelvis.

If you’d like to explore more ways of moving to help your body, please check out The Take Ten Program, or consider joining us in the Aligned and Aware library.

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