Immune Support #11: Sleep & Yoga Legs Up the Wall. Poor sleep and chronic insomnia deplete our immune system in challenging and stressful times but we know that quality sleep is critical for immune health and healing.
Research shows that there is cognitive and physiological arousal in chronic insomnia and clinical trial studies of insomnia treatments aimed at reducing arousal, including relaxation and meditation, have reported positive results.
When it comes to improving sleep, the practice of yoga is also known to be effective in reducing arousal and research has demonstrated statistically significant improvements.
Here, I’m sharing MindBodyGreen’s recent post by Hope Knosher – Hope says:
If you only have time for one pose, make it this one: legs up the wall, also known as viparita karani. This asana is considered a restorative, gentle inversion, and while it’s usually practiced at the end of a yoga class, it can be helpful on its own to relax the body.
Sleep & Yoga Legs Up the Wall
(From Mind Body Green: The Only Yoga Pose You Need For Great Sleep, Explained.)
- Sit sideways with your right side against the wall.
- Exhale and gently swing your legs up onto the wall and your shoulders and head lightly down onto the floor.
- Coming into this pose may take some practice. Your sitz bones don’t need to be right against the wall, depending on the tightness of your hamstrings. Experiment with the position until you find the placement that works for you.
- This pose is not intended to stretch the backs of the legs, so if you feel pulling in the hamstrings, move further from the wall. Keep the lower back grounded to the floor.
- Make a small roll with a hand towel to place under your neck if the cervical spine at the base of your neck feels too flat.
- Open your shoulder blades away from your spine and release your hands and arms out to your sides, palms up.
- Keep your legs relatively firm, just enough to hold them vertically in place. If you struggle to keep your legs upright, take a yoga strap or something similar and place it around your legs just below the knees and gently tighten to hold the legs upright, allowing you to further relax into the pose.
- Gently close and soften your eyes, then scan the body. Soften into any tightness you find along the way.
How to incorporate equal breathing.
You can deepen your experience and the calming effect of this pose by focusing on the breath. Begin by placing one hand on the lower belly and one hand over the heart; expand your awareness to include the natural rhythms of your breath.
Once comfortable here, begin to take slow, gentle, and deep inhales and exhales, without forcing and straining. Try to make the length of the exhales match your inhales.
“Equal breathing” (called sama vritti in yoga, sama meaning “even and smooth,” and vritti meaning “fluctuations”) is said to create a balance of the flow of consciousness, smoothing fluctuations of the mind into stillness.
Stay in this pose for anywhere from five to 20 minutes, allowing your breath to return to normal for the last few minutes. Stay present with the sense of calm and equanimity that this pose brings.
When you are ready to come out, bend your knees halfway toward your chest and roll to one side. Use your arms to help you sit up, moving slowly and mindfully.
You can read Hope’s full post here.
This post is part of the Immune Support Series – with this series, I’m making a commitment to my subscribers to post regular helpful, evidence-based information and insights around the elements of resilient health and how we can help ourselves and support each other.
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Stay safe, stay informed and get empowered, Izabella.