A simple yoga pose has become a viral TikTok trend, with advocates claiming it can improve their sleep, immunity, and digestion.
The ‘legs up the wall’ position (with its own hashtag that’s garnered more than 15 million views) involves lying on the floor (perhaps using a block to prop up your hips) and stretching your legs up against a wall.
It is a restorative pose, meaning it’s a passive, meditative position, aimed at relaxing you physically and mentally. And according to fans of the move, which is officially called Viparita Karani, it provides a whole host of benefits.
And one of the biggest, according to some fans, is that it makes them feel relaxed, which yoga instructor Ema Rice says could be due to the position of the body when in the pose.
She explained that the name Viparita Karani translates as ‘inverted doing’, which reflects the inverted position of the body in this position, with the legs up, and the head on the ground.
An unlikely yoga pose has gone viral on TikTok. Legs up the wall, which involves lying down and putting your legs up, has garnered millions of views and lots of enthusiastic fans
Ema said: ‘Any asana that brings your head to the ground should help you feel grounded, and that brings a sense of calm.
‘It seems like most people’s bodies are in high stress all day with getting from A to B and meeting deadlines, having demanding jobs etc.
‘Which means that while in this asana, it’s the perfect opportunity to relax from the day, both physically, and mentally.’
Jen Harvey, co-owner of Oceanflow Yoga Studio in Newquay, is also a fan of the pose’s benefits when it comes to relaxation, and added that setting some time aside in the evening to put your legs up against a wall can be a really effective way to improve sleep.
She said: ‘It is especially important to be in this state as we approach bedtime as it allows our brain to shift from being beta wave dominant to a more relaxed alpha wave state.
‘This allows us to transition more easily into deep sleep and also helps to settle the monkey mind and release tension headaches…It is amazing how a bit of stillness in our lives can have such a positive impact on our health.’
The pose is widely understood to improve circulation, with some pointing out that it allows the circulation of fluids that are stored in the legs.
According to yoga instructor Ema: ‘By having our legs above our head, it allows the blood to flow away from our legs and feet which we using all day so we relieve tension and swelling there.’
One of the claims made about Viparita Karani is that it can be beneficial for immunity, with Jen saying that the pose ‘encourages movement of the lymph through the body’, which can help support the immune system.
This is a ‘restorative pose’ that helps move all the fluids in your body to refresh your circulation, relax your nervous system and get rid of swelling
She added: ‘The lymphatic system is important for the optimal functioning of our general and specific immune responses.’
Yoga generally can reduce stress, which can weaken the immune system, and so some research suggests that reducing stress by practising yoga may help support your immunity.
When it comes to digestion, there is some debate as how helpful the pose is, with some practitioners saying there is no direct evidence of this.
However, as it seems to aid in circulation, this can indirectly have a positive effect on digestion, with Ema pointing out that the digestive and circulatory systems work together closely to distribute absorbed nutrients through the body.
Jen adds that as the posture encourages blood flow to the gut, this too could aid digestion.
Another claim about the position is that it can aid thyroid function. According to Ema: ‘The pose also increases blood flow to the thyroid gland and regulates thyroid function. The neck exerts pressure on the gland and so it receives the largest supply of blood.
‘The improvement of blood circulation into the neck helps to nourish the thyroid and so better its function.’
There is some research supporting the role certain yoga poses can play in improving thyroid function, though medics point out that people with a thyroid imbalance should use yoga as a complementary therapy, rather than replacing any medical treatment they are receiving.
TikTok users took to the social media platform to discuss how much they enjoy doing the pose, and the benefits they feel they get from it
Over on social media, TikTokker @lexnicoleta, 26, from California, tried doing the pose for 15-30 minutes a day, every day, for a week, saying she had benefited in multiple ways.
Summing up her thoughts, she said: ‘The biggest thing I noticed was that the pose alleviated my anxiety. It allowed me to breathe better and made me feel like I was getting better sleep.’
Her video garnered numerous comments from fans of the pose, with one commenter saying: ‘I did this yesterday for 20 mins and I slept a full 9 hours last night.’
Another added: ‘I’m totally laying in that position as I came across this TikTok. So good for leg swelling from sitting at a desk for 8 hours and much more!’
A third said: ‘My grandma used to this all the time!!! And if you complained about any ache she would say put your feet up.’