If you feel like you’ve tried every style of yoga asana out there, or perhaps are looking for something a bit different and more accessible, wall yoga may be just what you need.
Not only does it offer a fresh perspective on traditional yoga poses, but it can also be very beneficial for your body and mind.
So, what exactly is wall yoga, and how can you benefit from it?
In this article, we will cover everything you need to know about vertical yoga, including the benefits, poses, and tips for practicing safely.
Here is what we’ll cover:
- What is wall yoga?
- 8 benefits of practicing wall yoga
- What is a yoga wall?
- 8 wall yoga poses to try
- Tips for practicing wall yoga
Let’s dive right in!
What is wall yoga?
Wall yoga, also referred to as vertical yoga, is a practice that involves using the wall as a tool to deepen yoga poses and enhance their benefits.
Practicing yoga against a wall allows you to find better alignment and stability, while also providing support to the body during poses that may otherwise be challenging.
Wall yoga can be practiced in a variety of settings, including yoga studios, fitness centers, and even at home with the help of a regular wall or a specially designed yoga wall with buckles, ropes, and straps.
8 Benefits of Practicing Wall Yoga
1# Improves Alignment
Practicing against the wall brings awareness to the alignment of the spine, hips, and shoulders, helping you to find a more stable and centered posture in each pose.
2# Increases Flexibility
Using the wall can help you get deeper into certain stretches without compromising proper alignment or risking injury.
3# Enhances Balance
Wall yoga can help improve balance, as the wall provides stability and support during more challenging balancing poses.
4# Strengthens Muscles
Practicing against the wall engages muscles that may be neglected in traditional yoga poses, leading to increased strength and stability.
5# Relieves Tension
Due to its support, wall yoga can help release tension and ease discomfort in tight muscles, particularly in the shoulders, back, and hips.
6# Improves Breathing
Focusing on the breath during wall yoga can help reduce stress and calm the mind, leading to a more balanced and centered practice.
7# Enhances Awareness
Practicing against the wall can help bring awareness to the body and its movements, allowing you to deepen your practice and find greater ease in each pose.
8# Provides Versatility
Wall yoga can be adapted to a variety of levels and needs, from gentle stretches to more challenging inversions, making it a versatile practice for all.
What is a Yoga Wall?
Iyengar’s yoga wall, also known as the yoga rope wall or yoga wall system, is an innovative method of practicing yoga that made its debut in the 1980s.
It was developed by B.K.S. Iyengar, one of the most influential yoga teachers of the 20th century, and is now widely used in yoga studios around the world.
The yoga wall is an adjustable system of ropes and straps that are mounted onto a wooden or metal frame, allowing practitioners to perform various yoga poses with greater ease, depth, and safety.By using the ropes and straps to support the body, practitioners can achieve sometimes experience stretches and deeper poses, without the risk of injury or strain.
This is particularly valuable for those with limited mobility, injuries, or chronic conditions such as arthritis, as it allows them to practice yoga with greater comfort and ease.
One of the most significant benefits of the yoga wall system is its ability to help practitioners develop better alignment and posture.
By using the ropes and straps to support the body, practitioners can move into poses with greater precision, enabling them to correct imbalances and misalignments in their bodies, or simply find a better way for their anatomy to access the pose.
This, in turn, can help prevent injuries, improve posture, and enhance overall physical performance.
By supporting practitioners in their practice and making it more accessible, it can help build self-confidence, resilience, and a sense of accomplishment. A yoga wall also provides a sense of support and safety, which can help reduce feelings of anxiety and stress.
8 Wall Yoga Poses to Try
Yoga walls are wonderful and the adjustable straps and hooks allow for a variety of poses and angles, making it a versatile and accessible practice, but you can also use any bare wall.
We invite you to tap into your creativity and inspiration as a practitioner or yoga teacher to find more ways to utilize a wall in your yoga practice.
Here are some wall yoga poses to try for inspiration:
1# Downward-Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
There are several ways in which you can make use of a wall when practicing downward-facing dog.
If you have difficulty getting your heels to the ground and would like some support under your feet:
- bring your heels to the base or baseboard of a wall, feet about hips-distance apart, and then walk your hands forward coming into your Adho Mukha Svanasana.
For those wanting to avoid the inverted part of the posture, or wanting to keep pressure off the wrists and shoulders:
- bring your hands to the wall, about shoulders-distance apart, engaging hasta bandha and start to walk your feet back, simply changing the plane of the posture.
2# Warrior II (Virabhadrasana II)
Finding the right alignment while maintaining stability and the flow of breath in Warrior 2 can be challenging for many, and using a wall can help.
- Consider bringing the pose to the wall by simply taking the back body against it and exploring the pose from there, really giving you space to refine your Warrior 2 alignment while being a little more supported.
3# Half-Moon Pose (Ardha Chandrasana)
Similarly to Warrior 2, the Half-moon pose can be tricky when it comes to alignment, and moreover, it requires balancing on one leg.
- You can move the entire posture to the wall, just like Warrior 2, or you can also bring your foot to the wall and play with your balance and strength from there.
4# Headstand (Sirsasana) and/or Handstand (Adho Mukha Vrksasana)
Especially when first learning the inversion, using the wall as support can be great when practicing a headstand.
- By having a wall behind you, you can avoid falls while exploring what your balance is like upside down.
5# Bridge Pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)
- Lie on your back with your feet hip-distance apart and your knees bent.
- Place your feet on the wall and press into your feet as you lift your hips up toward the ceiling.
6# Puppy Pose (Uttana Shishosana)
- Stand a few centimeters away from the wall, and walk your hands up the wall as you allow your chest to melt toward it, creating a gentle yet effective backend that is much more accessible.
7# Legs Up the Wall Pose
For a relaxing experience, try Viparita Karani, also known as legs-up-the-wall pose:
- Take a seat on the ground and bring one hip next to the wall. As you bring your legs up, lay down on the floor, and bring your arms to the sides of the body.
- Lie fully on your back with your legs extended up the wall, using a strap if needed to support the legs.
- Relax into the pose and focus on deep breathing for a while.
8# Straddle Pose
- From Viparita Karani, utilize gravity to take your heels wider, finding a straddle that’s comfortable for you and where you can breathe for a few minutes, releasing hip tension.
Tips for Practicing Wall Yoga
When starting to practice wall yoga consider the following tips:
- Use props: Utilize straps, bolsters, and blocks to support your body in each pose and prevent injury.
- Explore your unique alignment: Make sure to pay attention to your alignment in each pose and give yourself space to do what works for you, even with the added support of the wall.
- Listen to your body: As with any yoga practice, listen to your body and practice within your limits to prevent injury.
- Seek guidance: If you’re new to wall yoga or have any concerns, seek guidance from a qualified teacher before practicing on your own.
Overall, wall yoga offers a unique and stimulating experience for practitioners of all levels.
By utilizing gravity and the support of the wall, it can enhance your practice and provide a deeper stretch and greater balance.
You can practice wall yoga by simply utilizing a plain wall to support your practice, or you can go to a specialty studio that has a yoga wall, with ropes and attachments to assist your practice.
From increased strength and stability to improved flexibility and stress relief, as well as just fun, the benefits of wall yoga are numerous.
To discover other unique ways to practice with support, read this article on yoga props.