10/18/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

Everyday Yoga: 5 Steps To Instant Calm

Is your mind racing? Feet aching? Just need to take a break and wind down quickly?
This ancient yoga pose, "Viparita Karani" (pronounced vip-par-ee-tah car-AHN-ee) is also known as "Legs up the Wall Pose." It relaxes the nerves, improves circulation, and eases tiredness and swelling in the feet and legs.

Try this effective respite in the midst of your work day (after lunch is a good time), after traveling, or when laying on your bed before you go to sleep at night. All you need is 5 minutes -- but if you have 10 or 15, that's even better!

Here's how:


1. Sit on the floor with one hip pressed right against the wall. If you are not on carpeting or a bed, spread a mat or blanket evenly
underneath you.
2. Exhale and, with one smooth movement, swing your legs up onto the wall and your shoulders and head lightly down onto the floor.
3. How close your hips are to the wall here will depend upon how open the muscles are in the backs of your legs. If you are more flexible, your sitting bones will be close to the wall. If that feels like a strain, back your hips away from the wall so that your legs are more than 90 degrees away from your torso. Keep your legs relatively firm, just enough to hold them vertically in place.
4. Rest your arms slightly away from your side, palms up. Close your eyes, cast your gaze downwards toward your heart. Breathe smoothly and evenly through your nostrils. Let your belly expand and contract with the breath.
5. To come out, bend your legs, press your feet into the wall, and roll to one side. Rest there for a few moments before using your hands to press back up to a seated position.

Deluxe version: Place a lavender-scented eye bag over your eyes for ultimate relaxation.

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