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The most powerful pose in my yoga practice is probably the least challenging. And may not be the one you’re expecting: I’m guilty of a racing mind in Savasana (Corpse Pose), swaying forward and backward in Tadasana (Mountain Pose), and fidgeting in Balasana (Child’s Pose). However, in Viparita Karani (Legs Up the Wall Pose), I’m still and focused.
I remember practicing the pose in one of my first-ever yoga classes, watching as other students scooted their mats to the edge of the floor to prop their legs up. I was immediately intrigued. While many other inversions felt completely inaccessible to me at the time (and often still do), I felt comfortable in this one. And I’m not the only one.
In the past year, Legs Up the Wall has become “the yoga pose” of TikTok. Influencers, including Christina Najjar (“Tinx”) and Lex Nicoleta have embraced doing Legs Up the Wall on a regular basis. They advertise the posture to millions of followers, with people often echoing their own love for the pose in the comments. The hashtag #legsupthewall has 15.6 million views on TikTok, more than double that of #childspose (6.7 million) and #savasana (4.5 million). In a sense, it’s gone viral.
The benefits of Legs Up the Wall
It’s not surprising that everyone is turning to this famous restorative posture. This pose can improve your circulation and help you destress, while requiring little movement. Additionally, in a recent piece by the Cleveland Clinic, Robert Saper, MD, outlines how this posture can help recirculate fluid that’s built up in your legs, reducing swelling.
“Legs Up the Wall is a very accessible type of inversion,” says Susan Raposo, a yoga teacher with expertise in restorative yoga. “And inversions, in general, calm the nervous system and rejuvenate the legs.” Raposo says inverted poses (when your legs are over your heart) allow your body to circulate blood through your body with ease. And if you’re spending all day on your feet, Legs Up the Wall can offer some relief to your tired leg muscles, she says.
The best 🤍🙏🏼
The problem with going viral
However, as with anything gaining Internet notoriety, the popularity of Viparita Karani has raised concerns. When I took a scroll through the #legsupthewall hashtag on TikTok, I noticed that many of the top videos claimed the pose reduces bloating. One person said it was a quick way to get skinny before going out. Another said it was a weight loss hack. And while the pose is certainly exceptional, those benefits are either exaggerated or untrue.
This isn’t the first time toxic diet culture has taken over TikTok. In October 2020, Delish published a piece detailing the dangers of diet “hack” videos on the app. While Legs Up the Wall isn’t a restrictive diet or a potentially dangerous supplement, it is important to understand the context of the pose—and its limitations. Sure, Legs Up the Wall may soothe anxious thoughts, increase circulation, or make you feel less bloated (it definitely does for me), but it’s not a magic pill you can take to cure what ails you.
Like the rest of your yoga practice, coming into Legs Up the Wall requires the same careful intention-setting. So go ahead and sidle up to the wall and take a few minutes to go upside down. Your body (and mind) will thank you.