How the Legs-up-the-Wall Tik-Tok Trend Can Improve Your Health

5 min read

Last Modified 25 April 2022 First Added 22 April 2022

By Nicholas Barber

Have you tried it yet? The legs-up-the-wall pose that’s been all over Tik-Tok has now officially become a genuine phenomenon. This simple-to-do position is a modern take on the ancient viparita karani yoga technique; viparita meaning “inverted,” and karani, “in action.”

And as the hashtag #legsonwall hits over three million views, it’s worth asking why this position is so popular, and why now? In a nutshell, it’s all about finding a quick and easy way to boost your health and wellbeing, as well as helping to get a great night’s sleep. Best of all, it can be done in the bedroom and even in bed!

According to yoga teacher Cyndi Lee you can use the pose to ‘alleviate headaches, boost energy, and relieve lower-back pain. Many TikTok influencers agree; finding that the pose has all sorts of benefits from lessening stress and anxiety to improving circulation, digestion, and aches and pains.

What is Viparita Karani?

All you really need to know is that the position inverts the typical actions that happen in our bodies when we sit and stand. Your torso and head lie flat on the ground while your legs are inverted up a wall. According to Yoga Journal, ‘the legs-up-the-wall pose gives blood circulation a gentle boost toward the upper body and head’. This creates a pleasant feeling of rebalancing after a long time of standing or sitting.

What you need to do

  • With your head furthest from the wall, lie on your back with arms spread by your side, knees hugging into your chest, and feet flat against the wall. Stay here for 10 breaths.
  • Release your legs and gently walk your feet up the wall in front of you, until they’re completely straight and flat against the wall. Stay here for 10 deep breaths.
  • Swap between the feet and legs on the wall positions as described above, repeating four to six times.

What are the benefits?

According to Robert Saper, MD, MPH, Chair of Wellness and Preventive Medicine, the main benefit of viparita karani is that it puts back into circulation the bodily fluids stored in your legs. “By inverting and holding that pose, it allows the return of blood flow and reduction of lower-leg swelling,” he says.

The pose is safe to do up to twice a day, says Dr Saper, whether as part of your regular yoga practice or as a stand-alone pose. By doing the pose as described above regularly the benefits include:

1. You can sleep better

A Harvard study on insomnia found that those who practiced yoga consistently for eight weeks slept better and longer than those who didn’t.

When you’re able to relax the body, it becomes easier to relax the mind, setting the stage for more restful sleep. World Peace Yoga School recommends practicing legs-up-the-wall at night before getting into bed, or in the middle of the night when sleep is elusive.

2. You may feel calmer

Research shows that yoga can generally help your body’s stress response systems, and restorative yoga poses like legs up the wall are intended to guide your body into a relaxed state. Tik-Tok user @lexnicoleta tried the legs-up-the-wall for around 30 minutes each day for a week. The result?

“The biggest thing I noticed was that the pose alleviated my anxiety. It allowed me to breathe better and made me feel like I was getting better sleep,” she reported.

3. It provides a rest

If you need a nap throughout the day but don’t have the time to spare, then legs-up-the-wall pose can provide much-needed rest. In fact, in acclaimed yogi Gail Boorstein Grossman’s book Restorative Yoga: A Relaxing Way to De-stress, Re-energize, and Find Balance, she claims that twenty minutes of the pose can have the same restful benefits as a short nap.

4. It may improve headaches and improve circulation

Award-winning osteopath Anisha Joshi told Glamour magazine that having your legs on the wall may improve headaches because you’re giving your body time to rest and relax. She explains, “In my clinic, many patients who experience headaches are usually experiencing them because of stress or lack of sleep.

“Elevating your legs on the wall can help with lymphatic drainage in your legs. If you suffer from swelling in your ankles or knees, after putting your legs on the wall you may notice a reduction in this swelling or fluid retention.”

 

Yoga in the bedroom

We’re changing how we use our bedrooms. Modern lifestyles mean the bedroom is now a space where sleep is just one of many activities. You might even say the bedroom is a new living room; essentially, ‘a room for living in’.

It’s now a space where we relax, make plans, read books, watch TV and even exercise. If you haven’t already, why not try the legs-up-the-wall pose in the comfort of your bedroom, either on the floor or even in bed?

And for more information on how to use yoga to help you get a good night’s sleep, read our article here.

(Note: As with any yoga posture, there are some risks associated with doing legs up the wall. Avoid the pose if you have been diagnosed with glaucoma, conditions that cause excessive fluid retention, or high blood pressure. After the third month of pregnancy it’s not recommended to lie on your back so this position would be unsuitable.)

 

 

About the author