The Best Pose for Insomnia & Back Pain
Legs Up The Wall has got to be one of my favourite yoga poses for just about any ailment. It's known to reduce stress, regulate blood flow, calm anxiety, relieve pain and improve digestion among many other benefits. But this article specifically touches on how Legs Up The Wall can help ease two of the most common issues I hear from our customers, friends, family and students - Back Pain and Insomnia.
Insomnia has been on the rise since the World Health Organization declared Corona Virus a world pandemic in March 2020. It's becoming such an issue that some experts are calling it "Covid-somnia." If you're experiencing insomnia, fragmented sleep or night terrors due to the anxiety that the pandemic is causing - you may want to add Legs Up The Wall to your nightly routine. This yoga pose is known to help relieve symptoms of anxiety and insomnia.
How does Legs Up The Wall Help Insomnia?
This global pandemic has most of our sympathetic nervous systems working overtime. This nervous system, known as "fight or flight", kicks in to prepare you for potential danger or stressful situations. It keeps you on edge as hormones surge to keep your heart rate high and muscles ready for action.
It's so difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep when your sympathetic nervous system is activated. With the legs above the head and heart, your body will switch from "fight or flight mode" to "rest & digest mode." This is where your parasympathetic nervous system takes over. It's the system that inhibits the body from over working so it can return to a calm and composed state.
Your body will fall into this state fairly quickly once you get into Legs Up The Wall. We recommend keeping your feet elevated above your head for 5 - 20 minutes, or until you feel a sense of calm wash over you.
Does Restless Leg Syndrome contribute to your insomnia?
Legs Up The Wall can help to reduce the symptoms of Restless Leg Syndrome, too. It helps to drain the blood & lactic acid from the feet and legs. Because there is less nervous system stimulation with your legs elevated, this pose allows the legs to relax and diminish the uncomfortable sensations.
Incorporating Legs Up The Wall into your nightly bedtime routine can help decrease your insomnia so that you have a restful eight hours of sleep.
Experts estimate that nearly 80% of people have, have experienced or will experience back pain. Making back pain one of the most common physical ailments. It's one of the most common issues we hear from our customers, too.
There are many different types of back pain and many different ways to heal. In my personal experience dealing with several back injuries, Legs Up The Wall is one of the most gentle, easy and effective ways to help heal back pain.
How does Legs Up The Wall Help Back Pain?
This passive yoga pose offers a mild stretch to the hamstrings, calves & low back. Practiced over time, it will make your body more flexible to relieve tension in the back.
Laying on a flat surface for Legs Up The Wall will help to straighten the spine and remove pressure on your lumbar area.
Just as it helps with insomnia, elevating your legs activates the parasympathetic nervous system which allows the muscles to release and the body to become calm. Often back pain is caused by tense muscles around the spine, shoulders and hips. Your back feels well supported in Legs Up The Wall which signals the muscles of the back to relax and soften.
Inverted poses like Legs Up The Wall promote healthy circulation. Blood flow and oxygen levels increase in your upper body and flush your lymphatic system. This can help reduce swelling around the spine or other areas of the body.
Practicing Legs Up The Wall on a regular basis can help to reduce many types of back pain.
HOW TO DO LEGS UP THE WALL
There are many variations for Legs Up The Wall. I recommend trying several before you decide which style is best for your body. I'll break down the standard style below, then give you a bunch of other options that you might find helpful in reducing back pain or fighting insomnia.
GETTING INTO LEGS UP THE WALL
- Sit on the floor with your left hip touching the wall or baseboard.
- Spin slightly to your left as you lift your legs up the wall.
- Slowly lay your back on the floor.
- Move your bum farther from the wall the back or backs of legs feel too tight to release.
- Align your spine and tuck your chin slightly.
- Now rest here for 5 - 20 minutes focusing your attention on your breath.
* While Legs Up The Wall is helpful in most situations, it is not for everybody. Consult your doctor or do not practice if you have glaucoma or any eye conditions, low blood pressure, are pregnant, or during menses.
LEGS UP THE WALL VARIATIONS
Most Accessible - Legs Up The Couch
Follow the steps above, but use a couch instead of a wall.
Best Alignment for Hips & Spine - Strapped Legs Up The Wall
Before you follow the steps above, place a block or a cushion between your calves. Then tie a Yoga Strap (or belt) around your calves and the block.
Best for Grounding - Weighted Legs Up The Wall
Follow the steps above. Have a friend add a 10Lbs Sandbag onto your feet and another on your belly. You can also add a Lavender Eye Pillow for even deeper relaxation.
Best for Low Back Pain - Supported Legs Up The Wall (with cobblers legs or without)
Follow the steps listed above, but have a bolster within reaching distance. Once in position, bend your knees and press your feet into the wall to lift your pelvis from the floor. Slide the bolster under you and rest your pelvis on it. Bring the soles of the feet together and let the knees open (as in the image below) or stretch your legs back up straight.