4 Ways to Practice Legs Up the Wall (That You Haven’t Tried)

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Legs Up the Wall is what many consider to be an essential restorative yoga pose that you can rely on whenever you feel overstimulated or want to take a nap but don’t have time to fall asleep. What not everyone is aware of is that there are different variations of Legs Up the Wall that you can utilize for slightly different effects.

The following practice can be used as a 30-minute restorative yoga class that’s focused entirely on different versions of the traditional pose. You can simply try one or two of these variations on their own or let the soothing sequence be an invitation to surrender and allow space for you to restore your physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Consider it permission granted to pause and rest anytime you need.

The options start with traditional variation of Legs Up the Wall and then you move into a straddle variation with the legs farther apart to stretch the inner thighs and hamstrings. Then you take a Deer Pose variation to target internal rotation of the hips as well as the inner thighs before you explore Reclined Pigeon and Butterfly variations at the wall to target external hip rotation. These poses are suitable for anyone regardless of your experience with yoga.

Practice the following sequence of poses in the evening—you can even try them in bed if you there’s no headboard to get in the way—or any time you need to slow down.

4 Variations on Legs Up the Wall

No matter how many poses you try, consider it a very low effort practice. Let the wall support you rather than try to hold yourself in position. Also, try to find some time when you’re completely free of distractions. Turn off your phone, dim the lights, maybe put some music on, or whatever you need to set the mood and make sure you’ll be comfortable. You’re not going to want to move much once you begin.

Take some time to establish yourself in each pose. If you have your blankets, you can keep them within reach in case you want to cover yourself, or perhaps you have an eye pillow to cover your face, or if you’re using a bolster, you can play around a little with its distance from the wall. You can also choose what you want to do with your arms…maybe they go up overhead or they can rest on your belly or by your sides.

Whichever variation you practice, try to remain in it for about 5 minutes or so.

Traditional Legs Up the Wall (Photo: Yoga with Kassandra)

Traditional Legs Up the Wall

So with that in mind, let’s go ahead and just get into the traditional variation of legs up the wall. I use a bolster in Legs Up the Wall because I prefer to have my hips elevated a little although the prop is completely optional. If you don’t have a bolster at home and would like to try it, you can stack some bed pillows, couch cushions, or even thick folded blankets to help lift your hips several inches off the ground.

You can also play around a little with the distance of the bolster from the wall. I like my bolster pretty much directly up against the wall, maybe like an inch or two away.

I find it’s easier to come into the pose if I sit on the side of the bolster or mat and then as I lift my legs, I scooch my hips toward the wall and lower myself onto the mat. Take your legs hip-distance apart and let them rest against the wall.

As you transition into your practice, try to keep breathing into your belly every time you exhale.

You’ll stay here about 5 minutes in total in this first variation of the Pose, simply staying present with yourself and fully relaxing.

woman practicing yoga up a wall with her feet in a narrow split
Straddle Legs Up the Wall (Photo: Yoga with Kassandra)

1. Straddle Legs Up the Wall Variation

From traditional Legs Up the Wall, invite your legs to kind of slide away from each other and closer toward the ground. This is really where gravity does the work for you, so you’re not trying to force yourself into the shape. You want it to remain comfortable. Your legs will probably naturally slide a little farther apart throughout the time you rest here.

You may also want to change your arm position from the previous version, if you’d like. Simply let yourself breathe and come back to yourself.

woman practicing yoga with her legs up a wall in different directions
Deer Pose at the Wall (Photo: Yoga with Kassandra)

2. Deer Pose at the Wall Variation

From Legs Up the Wall, bend your knees and just kind of bring your feet flat toward the wall or down towards your bolster. With your knees bent, internally rotate your right hip as if you’re trying to bring your right knee against the wall and let your right foot come down to the floor. Let your left leg just wherever it wants over to the side. You’re not really focusing on what’s happening with your left leg. Linger here and let yourself relax.

This creates a rather intense stretch along your right inner thigh. Some of you may feel the intensity of the stretch in your right knee, so if you experience discomfort, slowly come out of the pose and try the Reclined Pigeon Pose variation that follows instead.

Slowly ease out of the pose by straightening your legs and make our way to the second side.

woman practicing yoga up a wall with one foot on the wall
Reclined Pigeon Pose at the Wall (Photo: Yoga with Kassandra)

3. Reclined Pigeon Pose at the Wall Variation

From Legs Up the Wall, simply cross your right ankle over the top of your left knee, and then bend your left knee and keep your foot flat against the wall as you slowly lower it a comfortable amount, whether that’s when your shin is almost parallel to the floor or closer to the floor. This brings your right hip into external hip rotation.

When you find a position that feels good, rest where you are. You want this to be a nurturing practice, one that helps you embrace doing less. Keep reminding your facial muscles, your jaw, your shoulders, and your neck to relax a little more.

When you’re ready, release the pose on this side and then switch to the other side.

woman practicing yoga against a wall with legs folded
Butterfly Pose at the Wall (Photo: Yoga with Kassandra)

4. Butterfly Pose at the Wall Variation

From Legs Up the Wall, you’re going to come into a version that’s similar to Butterfly Pose, as it’s known in yin yoga, or Bound Angle Pose (Baddha Konasana). Just bring the soles of your feet together and let your knees fall apart. You might have your heels a little higher up the wall or they may slide down.

Again, place your hands and your arms wherever is comfortable to you. And if for any reason, this pose does not feel suitable to you, you can just come back into that first variation that we did together, which is the traditional Legs Up the Wall. Breathe deeply.

woman practicing yoga near a wall on her side
Side Savasana (Photo: Yoga with Kassandra)

Side Savasana

When you’re ready, bring your knees back in toward one another and just roll over onto your side and off your bolster as you come into a side-lying position sometimes known as Side Savasana. Place your head on your arm and rest here for a few moments. After releasing these inversions, you’re letting yourself ground again and settle back into yourself so you can feel the effects of this practice and allow it to integrate. If you practiced these poses in bed, you can take this final pose under the covers. Stay here for about 10 breaths.

When you’re ready, slowly push your hands into the floor and make your way into a seated position or stay where you are. Close your eyes and pause here before you continue with your day or settle into your night.

RELATED: 22 Cues for Legs Up the Wall You Probably Haven’t Heard Before

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