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woman doing legs up the wall pose

Legs Up The Wall Pose (Viparita Karani) Step-by-Step Instructions

Legs Up The Wall Pose is an excellent passive yoga pose that relieves tension, improves circulation and gives you a much-needed break from a stressful day. You can perform the pose in your bed with your legs on the headboard or on any flat wall while you watch your favorite show. No matter where or when you perform the pose, it’s one that can change your life and put a smile on your face. 

Let’s get to it…

graphic of person doing legs up the wall pose

How to Perform Legs-Up-The-Wall Pose

The name of the pose kind of gives it away but there’s still a few steps that you want to follow when performing the pose. We recommend you get a yoga blanket or yoga bolster to place under your hips for added support. This is especially true if you’re performing the pose on hard floors. 

Step 1

Find a wall with plenty of room for you to lie flat on the floor with your legs up the wall. Roll up your yoga blanket or grab your bolster and place it close to the wall where your hips will be positioned on the floor.

Step 2

Scootch up to the wall sideways with your right or left side against the wall. Your butt will be on the edge of your support blanket or bolster. Now swing your legs up the wall as you turn and lie back on the floor. Your butt should rest in the little nook between your support and the wall. This is excellent for opening your hip sockets. You can move your support blanket around until you’re in a comfortable position. 

Step 3

Your butt/sit bones should be close to or up against the wall and you should have a small arch in your back where the blanket or bolster is supporting you. Your legs will be up the wall either straight or, if you’re not able to straighten them, you can keep your knees bent. You don’t need to be at a 90-degree angle since this can impede circulation.

Step 4

Relax. Let your body melt into the pose and allow the tension in your hips and back to release. This is one of those poses that you can stay in for as long as you like. Some people perform it in bed, with their legs up the headboard and others do it while watching TV. Try to open your shoulder blades while you’re holding the pose and relax your arms at your sides.

Step 5

To come out of the posture, simply release your legs and bring your knees in toward your chest. Now roll out of the pose and use your palms to press yourself up from the floor. 

Modifying Legs Up The Wall Pose

  • You can place your arms at your sides, on your chest or belly, or even under your head. 
  • Your knees can remain bent or you can bring your feet together if you have trouble straightening your legs out. 
  • If your heels are uncomfortable against the wall, you can place a blanket over your feet to pad your heels from the wall. 
  • For a more relaxing experience, you can add an eye pillow to rest your eyes. 
  • If you feel like you’re not getting enough support, you can stack a blanket on top of a bolster to give you more height.

Tips For a Better Legs Up The Wall Pose

man doing legs up the wall pose in bed

If you have trouble keeping your legs up the wall, your back hurts, or you can’t keep your legs straight, there are a few things you can do. Try tying a yoga strap around your thighs to help you keep them together and relax deeper into the pose. 

If your back is hurting, you may need to add or remove some of the support underneath you. For maximum height, you can use a yoga bolster with one or more blankets on top. This elevates your hips further but also rounds your lower back more. If you’re not flexible in the lower back region, I recommend using only a blanket for your support. 

Additionally, take the time to focus on your breath while you’re in the pose. Breathe in deep and imagine you’re healing yourself with every breath you take. See the oxygen flowing through your body and healing every part of you. Start with your feet and notice the tension at every spot. Now release the tension with every exhale. 


It’s hard to quantify all the benefits of such a simple pose. For starters, if you have swelling of the lower extremities, this helps to drain the lymphatic system and reduce swelling. It’s also an excellent pose for mental stress. By taking a few minutes to perform the pose at the beginning or end of a long day, you can check in with yourself, focus on your breath, and meditate while doing yoga. In addition to these obvious benefits, Legs Up The Wall also helps with: 

  • Anxiety
  • Arthritic pain
  • Digestion
  • Blood pressure
  • Sleep
  • Headaches
  • Cramps
  • Menopause
  • Relieves tension in the legs and feet
  • Improves flexibility in the hamstrings, back, and torso
  • Relieves aches and pains in your back
  • Relaxes the pelvic floor
  • Relaxes your mind and relieves stress
woman doing legs up the wall pose while reading in bed


Some say this pose shouldn’t be performed during menstruation since it is considered an inversion pose. However, you can probably judge that for yourself. Since getting into and out of the pose requires some twisting, if you have lower back problems then this should only be performed with the supervision of a professional and the blessing of your doctor. 

Related Yoga Poses

Pose Information 

  • Sanskrit name: Viparita Karani
  • Difficulty: Beginner