Using a wall to support our asana practice has so many benefits. Not only does it assist you into a greater ROM or help you reach your Therapeutic Edge (read ‘Pain and Your Therapeutic Edge’ to learn more about these!) the cooling inversions have a relaxing effect on your Nervous System. For more benefits of inversions read ‘The Benefits of Getting Upside Down’, but if you’re already convinced, give this practice a go!
Grab plenty of support in the form of blankets, pillows or a block, and of course make sure you have a clear space of wall without any furniture or large items in the way.
1. Begin by getting your hips close and laying down, moving your legs up the wall. Wriggle your hips further away or closer to the wall to a comfortable position. The longer in this pose, the better! Let the stress of the day melt away.
Hold for 3-5min.
2. Bring the soles of the feet together and allow the knees to open wide. Hands can be placed on the chest and belly to deepen mediation as your follow the breath.
Hold for 3-5min.
3. Bend the knees and place the soles of your feet on the wall so they are further than hips distance apart. Hold for 3-5mins. For a hip openers that targets the joint from a different angle, straighten the legs to return to Caterpillar on the wall. Slowly part the legs and allow gravity to find the degree they will open.
Hold for 3 mins.
4. Extend one leg up the wall. Take the other leg and place it’s flexed foot on the opposite knee. For a more intense stretch move the foot of the extended leg down closer to your body, flattening the foot to the wall. Repeat on both sides. If it feels good, lightly push the knee of the top leg away from you, towards the wall.
Hold for 3-5 min.
5. If you wish to practice your shoulder stand place your feet flat on the wall, hip width apart and at a distance up the wall so the knees are bent slightly. Push through the feet and engage the core to push the hips up and forward. Use your arms to stabilise your body. You may hold here or take one leg at a time off the wall to float it overhead. Repeat on both sides.
Hold for 1 min.
6. Move away from the wall and prepare for a counter-pose – a back bend. Be careful if you have any back issues and if this causes pain come into Sphinx without the wall support. To get into Wall Sphinx lay on your stomach and wriggle back whilst bending your knees. Lay the tops of your shins and your feet on the wall as the knees come to meet it. To deepen the backbend align elbows under shoulders and open the chest. Lift the level of the arms using a blanket or block, or further straighten the arms into Wall Seal pose.
Hold for 3min.
7. Use a block, rolled up blanket or pillow to lay down on, positioning the lowest part of the support on your lower ribcage. It is important to elevate the head with a pillow or blanket to protect the neck. Bending the knees in this pose lessens the intensity this back bend. Straightening out the legs and also taking the arms up overhead intensifies the opening of the chest. Place an eye pillow over the eyes, breath slowly and deeply, and find a level of pure rest and relaxation.
Hold for 3+ min.