6 Ways To Use a Wall in Your Yoga Practice
By: Sally Michell
When we think of yoga props the first things that come to mind are usually yoga straps, blocks, and bolsters, and while these are among the most popular aids in deepening your practice, we often fail to take advantage of the props that are literally all around us: our walls!
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Of course, there are some classic ways that we use walls to assist us (especially when first exploring inversions) but there might be a few moves that you may not have thought to try yet.
1. Legs Up The Wall
While this is a very well-known way to use the wall in your practice, if you haven’t tried it yet, you should.
The process is simple: lie on your back with your butt as close to the wall as possible, fully extend your legs straight up the wall and rest there anywhere from 5-30 minutes.
This pose is known for being extremely relaxing. Half an hour like this is said to have the same effect on the body as a two hour nap, and regular practice can help reduce stress, which is something that we could all use some help with. No matter what benefit you’re after this pose is definitely one well worth trying out for yourself.
2. Glute Stretch
This pose has also been called “thread the needle” but since that name is used for several poses, glute stretch will have to do here.
The pose is simple. Start in the same position as legs up the wall. Leaving your right leg extended, bend your left leg at the knee and cross your left ankle over the opposite knee. keeping your left foot flexed to protect your ankle, slowly begin to slide your right foot down the wall, pausing whenever needed, then repeat on the other side.
This stretch is excellent for releasing tension that is otherwise difficult to get to with any normal stretches.
3. Wheel Pose
There are several ways that the wall can assist you with wheel pose. The first way is in helping you get into it in the first place. For some people pushing up into wheel simply isn’t an option whether that be for health or strength level reasons. Luckily, pushing up isn’t the only way to get there.
Using the wall as a sort of reverse ladder, you can slowly walk your hands down the wall while leaning backwards until you find yourself in full wheel pose. If you opt to climb down into wheel, it’s important to be very mindful of your glutes and abs to ensure that your glutes are relaxed and your abs are engaged to avoid too much compression on your spine.
The second way to utilize the wall is to use it as a way to improve your form and deepen the back-bend once you’ve built the strength necessary to hold it in the first place. push up into wheel either with your hands already against the wall or near enough that you can “walk” your way to a wall afterwards.
With both wrists flat against the wall, walk your feet closer until your arms are fully against it. Keep your head looking down and allow the wall to assist you in opening up your chest, improving your form and creating a deeper stretch.
4. King Cobra
What yogi hasn’t dreamed of being able to touch their toes to their forehead in king cobra? However, for many of us, that dream seems pretty far out of reach. Luckily the wall can come in handy there too.
Begin by lying on your stomach, with your knees against the wall slightly wider than hip distance apart and your shins resting against the wall. Push up into cobra and allow the wall to gently assist you with deepening the pose. The wall takes your focus off of the lower half of your body onto what matters: your back, chest, low back, and shoulders. Practicing against the wall is a great way to hasten your journey to a full King Cobra.
5. Side Splits
The problem with practicing your side splits is the weight. if you’re not flexible enough to be able to rest on yoga blocks while working your way towards a full split, it can be scary if not downright painful trying to hold the side split without going too far.
Luckily, gravity doesn’t only work when you’re right side up. Start the same way you would for legs up the wall. allow gravity to work your legs apart and do the rest. It’s much gentler on your muscles but still allows you to get a deep stretch.
Practicing side splits against the wall regularly can get you to that envied level of flexibility without any of the fear or discomfort associated with having your entire body weight
6. Half-Moon Pose
Half-moon pose is a fun pose to get into, but for many of us it feels very unstable. Trying to keep your leg level while balancing on nothing but finger-tips and one foot is especially difficult for beginner yogis.
While there are already certain variations for this pose to make it more accessible for those new to the practice – such as using a yoga strap for the leg, or using a yoga block to make it so you don’t have to bend over quite so far – using a wall can take a lot of the difficulty out of this pose, while still allowing you to get in a good stretch and continue to improve your balance, without sacrificing any part of the pose while you’re at it.
You want to start a few feet away from the wall (roughly the length of your leg) and when you’re ready to move into the pose, use the wall as a prop for the lifted leg. Plant your foot flat against the wall and allow it to assist with your balance as you reach your arm above you and look up.
Not only does this help with balance, it also takes some of the weight off your leg, allowing newer yogis with less endurance to hold the pose for longer than they would have been able to otherwise.
The possibilities are endless, but whether you’re using the wall to make a pose easier or much more difficult the wall is an invaluable tool in your practice and chances are that you have at least four of them readily available to you already!
Let us know below what is your favourite wall pose.
Sally Mitchell began her career as a make up artist, and after receiving a diploma in Clinical Dermatology decided to combine her passions for makeup artistry and skincare becoming a licensed beauty professional. Now she shares useful skin care tips with readers of the Lumeskin blog.