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8 Easy Wall Yoga Asanas to Tone Up and Ease Post-Workout Aches

 Yoga and ayurveda lifestyle specialist Namita Piparaiya shows you how to work out using a wall to maximise your workout benefits. 

Having a workout routine is beneficial in many ways...we all know that. But, how do you begin the fitness journey and actually stick to it? Well, Yoga is a great option for beginners. There are many asanas that not only improve your posture and muscle tone but also improve your health from within. "While many different props can help enhance your yoga practice, the wall is one of the simplest and most accessible props one can find. It can help you find stability in balances; give you support in inversions and allow you to use its resistance to go deeper into stretches. It is also an excellent prop for restorative postures as well," says Namita Piparaiya, Yoga and Ayurveda Lifestyle Specialist, Founder - Yoganama. So, the next time you miss your gym or yoga studio, look around – a sturdy and reliable training partner might just be an arm’s length away!

1. WALL SIT (UTKATASANA VARIATION) Level: Beginner Benefits: This posture is great for the knees as it strengthens the quads, which in turn support and stabilize the knee joints. It is also a helpful exercise if you struggle to get up from squats. A wall sit recruits all the muscles in our legs, helping us increase our endurance and is an excellent way to train the muscles that become passive by sitting in a chair for long hours. Instructions • Stand with your back to the wall, lean back and slide down as if coming into a squat. • Stop once your quads are parallel to the floor and hold the position with your back pressing into the wall. • Hold for 20 to 60 seconds and repeat 2-3 times. • Alignment check: In the final position there should be a 90-degree angle at the hips and the knees

2. WALL SIDE PLANK (VASISTHASANA VARIATION) Level: Beginner Benefits: This is a beginner-friendly variation of Side Plank or Vasisthasana, and is easier on the shoulder. The shoulder joint is very mobile and can go out of alignment if we don’t actively recruit the supporting muscles. Using the wall like this helps the body warm up for more challenging arm balances against the wall which we will cover later in this article. Instructions • Stand sideways, one arm distance away from the wall, feet together. • Bend the elbow and lean into the wall on your forearm. • Pull the navel in and actively lift your hips away from the wall. • Hold for 30 seconds on each side. • Alignment check: Hips should not sink towards the wall.

3. WALL DOWNWARD FACING DOG (ARDHA ADHO MUKHASVANASANA VARIATION) Level: Beginner Benefits: This relaxing posture simulates the calming effect of forward bends and inversions. It is also a great way to open the shoulders and hamstrings as the wall supports and elevates the upper body. It is particularly helpful in lower back pain, which can get aggravated in forward bends if we don’t have enough flexibility in our hamstrings. Another common issue in the downward-facing dog is the rounding of the upper back, which can be difficult to correct when practicing it on the floor. Using the wall in this manner helps the practitioner iron out that curve in the upper back. Instructions • Stand with your palms flat on the wall in front of you. • Start walking back till you come into an L shape with your torso parallel to the floor • Lower the head between the arms and actively push the wall away with your hands lengthening your spine • Hold for 30 to 45 seconds. • Alignment check: Hips are at 90 degrees, directly above ankles.

4. WALL HALF MOON POSE (ARDHA CHANDRASANA VARIATION) Level: Intermediate Benefits: This challenging and stimulating posture recruits most of the body, making it very useful in improving our strength, stamina, and mobility. By using the wall, we switch the focus from balancing to consciously finding engagement in the core and legs to lift up higher and to stack the hips one above the other. We can then take these learnings and use them to practice this pose off the wall with more awareness of all its components. Because it is so invigorating and improves circulation it also makes us feel energized and active. Instructions: • Stand sideways to the wall with feet apart and a block on your right side. • Bend your right knee, place the right hand on the block and lift the left leg as far off the floor as comfortable. Press the left foot firmly into the wall. • Engage the core and abductors to find that lift and openness in the hips. • Hold for 20 to 30 seconds on each side. • Alignment check: The block and your hand should be directly underneath the shoulder. Hips should be facing forward and not down.

5. WALL REVOLVED HALF MOON POSE (PARIVRITTA ARDHA CHANDRASANA) Level: Intermediate Benefits: This is a more challenging version of Half Moon as there’s an additional element of twisting over and above strength, stability, and flexibility. Twisting helps open up the upper back, which is great for our posture. Because it improves blood circulation and generates heat, it helps improve digestion, metabolism, and clears up the mind. It also helps improve concentration, focus, balance, and coordination. Instructions: • Stand with your back towards the wall a few feet away from it • Come into a forward bend with your hands resting on two blocks. • Slowly shift your weight to your left foot and lift the right foot off the floor and plant it on the wall behind. • Next lift your left hand towards the sky while rotating your upper back. Turn as much as possible. • As you turn the right leg may slide or slacken, keep pressing into the wall and try to keep it engaged • Hold for 20 to 30 seconds on each side. • Alignment check: Both hips should be even – one should not be tilted towards the floor and the other one raised. If the right leg is raised, the right hip will tend to sink towards the floor, engage and lift it up.

6. FOREARM PLANK (PHALAKASANA VARIATION) Level: Advanced Benefits: This is a preparatory posture for arm balances such as Pincha Mayurasana (Scorpio Pose). Doing planks is challenging, but doing it against the wall is even more so. And that helps us build the strength required in the shoulders to lift our entire body weight. It is easy to get into arm balances by jumping up against the wall without having the required mobility or stability in the shoulder joint. Instead, postures like this and the next one can be practiced, which set a strong foundation. Instructions: • Come into a forearm plank with your feet towards the wall. • Slide back such that your heels are touching the wall, then slide back just a little more so that your knees bend slightly. • Walk your feet up the wall and bring your body parallel to the floor. • Hold for 10 to 30 seconds on each side; repeat twice. • Alignment check: Shoulders are directly above the elbows. Heels can be directly behind the shoulders or slightly elevated. Core is pulled in.

7. WALL L STAND (ARDHA ADHO MUKHA VRIKSHASANA) Level: Advanced Benefits: Almost all inversions help with sinus and congestion issues and even Asthma. They improve our sense of balance as well as confidence. They uplift our mood and help us feel charged up and refreshed. Instructions: • First, sit in on the ground with your legs straight and feet firmly planted against the wall • Now turn around place your palms where your hips were and heels pressing into the wall behind • Start walking your feet up on the wall till the legs are parallel to the floor • Hold for 20 to 30 seconds on each side, repeat twice • Alignment check: Wrists, Shoulders, Hips should be in one line

8. WALL BENT KNEE BELLY BREATHING (VIPARITA KARANI VARIATION) Level: All Benefits: Breathing correctly can help us relax the entire body. Deep belly breathing (also called Diaphragmatic breathing), in particular, has a very calming effect on the nervous system. It improves our lung capacity, slows down our heart rate and normalizes our blood pressure. We spend most of our lives in a very charged up and stressed environment, so taking these few moments to breathe slowly, mindfully, and with awareness acts as a tonic for the brain. Instructions: • Lie down with your body perpendicular to the wall, knees bent and toes touching the wall • Slide your feet up the wall and adjust the posture such that your shins are parallel to the floor. • Pull your navel in and minimize any gap between your lower back and the floor. • Place your palms on the quads, above knees, and use your hands to press the legs into the wall. This is optional, but it feels good and relaxes the lower back. Alternatively, both hands can rest on the belly. • Use this posture to do at least ten rounds of deep belly breathing. • Alignment check: Knees above hips, heels in line with knees. Belly rises when you inhale and relaxes when you exhale (NOT the other way round.)