Sometimes, the mind won’t stop. Intrusive thoughts. Overthinking. Figuring things out. Analysis. Even ideation.
From the time we wake up, the mind takes in a steady onslaught of information and churns endlessly trying to sort it out.
It can send you into a state of paralysis as your nervous system tries to digest all of it.
When it all becomes too much, you need to get out of your head before you go out of your mind.
There are many ways you can do this, but today I’m going to share just one. Because when you’re mind is spinning the last thing you really need is a list of options. That will only guarantee that you don’t do any of them.
Here is one simple strategy that I love.
It’s a variation of a restorative yoga pose called “Legs Up the Wall,” or Viparita Karani.
To really settle the nervous system I prefer a modification that supports the lower legs on a table or bench. Traditional Legs Up the Wall pose can sometimes be challenging to get into and create a lot of stretch on the hamstrings. Also, you may not have accessible wall space.
I find it more accessible to get into the pose and easier to hold the shape for a longer stretch of time in this variation.
How to do modified Legs Up the Wall:
(1) Find a space where you can lay on the floor, with a chair, sofa, ottoman, or bench close to you. You can also do this by a bed, if the bed is low enough. Or even a coffee table.
It’s nice to have some padding under your body, or at least under your head.
(2) Lay with your back on the floor. A pillow, bolster, or even a folded towel or blanket placed under your pelvis is really helpful, but if you don’t have it, it’s ok.
(3) Bring your legs into a tabletop position, bending at your hips and your knees about 90 degrees. Place your calves on the chair or bench.
(4) Place your arms to your side or rest them on your torso.
(5) Close your eyes. Breathe.
Try to stay in this pose for at least 10–15 minutes, but longer is even better.
This isn’t a stretching pose — if you feel stretching sensation, adjust so that you feel fully supported. The work here happens passively. There’s nothing to do other than be in the pose and breathe.
What It Does For You
Among other things, this is a great way to activate the body’s parasympathetic nervous system — the “rest and digest” response — which relieves stress and anxiety.
Physically, the mild inversion — created by having your legs above your heart — reverses the gravitational pull that acts on you all day while you’re sitting and standing. It drains swelling from the lower limbs and helps blood circulate back to the heart.
Note that while some people like to do this pose on a bed, the floor is the best place for this when you’re trying to clear a spinning mind. Having your entire torso on the floor is grounding, and helps you come out of your mind and into your body.
Perhaps the most important benefit is that in this position it’s extremely difficult to use your phone, watch TV, or read a book, which keeps you from taking in more information.
But the best way to find out what it does for you is to try it for yourself and observe the effects.
Go try it and report back in the comments.