How to Do Legs Up the Wall Pilates Yoga Exercise

A woman props her legs against a wall.
A woman props her legs against a wall. Cultura RM/Patryce Bak/Getty Images

Legs Up the Wall is a wonderful relaxation exercise to do before or after Pilates and yoga, or anytime you need some stress relief. In yoga, it is also known as viparita karani. This easy exercise will relax you, help with swollen legs and tired feet, and increase blood flow to the core of the body. Legs up is a nice exercise for pregnancy too.

Equipment You Will Need for the Legs Up the Wall Exercise

You need a padded surface like an exercise mat or a thick rug.

You can perform this at home or at the gym or in a Pilates studio.

  • Difficulty: This is an easy exercise, suitable for all levels.
  • Time Required: You will only need 1 or more minutes

How to Perform Legs Up the Wall

  1. Place a Pilates/yoga mat or another firm, padded surface perpendicular to a wall (unless you are sharing the mat as seen here).
  2. On the mat, cozy up to the wall sideways, getting your hip and shoulder as close to the wall as you can.
  3. Rotate yourself around so that your legs and feet go up the wall as you take your head away from the wall to lie down. Keep your butt as close to the wall as possible.
  4. Get organized:
    Scoot your butt closer to the wall if you need to. You want your legs close to 90 degrees. They are as straight as you can get them comfortably but don't lock your knees.
    Make sure your shoulders and hips are in a line, and your back is in neutral spine -- there will be curves under your low back and behind your neck.
    Relax your shoulders, moving them away from your ears. Let your arms lie loosely at your sides. Palms up or down.
    Balance your body weight side to side.
  1. Relax: Just lie there and do some deep breathing. You might want to mentally scan your body for tight places and let those go. Let go of as much tension as you can in your legs and hips. Feel the weight of the legs falling down, through the hips and into the floor.
    If you like to follow a visualization, learn the sensing the bones exercise.
  1. When you are ready, come out of the pose this way:
    Fold you knees to your chest.
    Roll to your side.
    Push onto hands and knees.
    Push your weight back to your feet and come to standing. You can roll your spine up, or you can stay folded at the hip and use your hands on your thighs to help yourself up the rest of the way.

Tips for Legs Up the Wall Exercise

  1. Some people like a neck roll under their neck or a small folded blanket under their shoulders and head.
  2. While your legs are up, you might also enjoy stretching them into a wide V shape or bending your knees so that the soles of your feet are together as the edges of the feet stay against the wall.

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