Wall work: challenge and support yourself
Wall work is all you need to jazz up your movement routine. Not only is it great for supporting the body in rest, the wall can also be a fun place to explore and challenge yourself in more active poses.
Creating new forces on the body can bring a different dimension, and experience, to familiar poses, but also make challenging poses, such as Bird of Paradise, more accessible. Here are our top picks of what you can do at the wall, and what the wall can do for you!
Proprioception is your ability to feel your body and its part in space, without having to look for them. With this side bend version, the wall acts as a feedback tool so you can keep your pelvis leveled and enjoy a true stretch of the spine. Keep reaching up and over to deepen the side bend, taking several breaths at each stage to allow the muscles to relax before attempting to go further. It’s a great release for the muscles of your lower back. In addition, this will also open up the muscles between the ribs (intercostal muscles). The result is you’ll breathe more efficiently and improve your ability to twist (useful for our next part).
Delve deeper into a pose
Sometimes we push ourselves into a twist and we get all twisted up! By that we mean that by rotating our spine, we can end up closing the front body and collapsing onto ourselves, which isn’t efficient for breathing and can create discomfort in the spine. In these twists at the wall, you can use your hands and feet as leverage (this will require strength too) to keep length in the spine as you rotate. You will notice that the more you extend the spine, the more easily you will twist. Finally, we especially love practicing Bird of Paradise at the wall as it takes most of the balance out of the equation and allows you to focus fully on the twisting element.
Use the wall to give a new meaning to common poses, such as side plank and cobra. Close the chain and work whole body strength. In cobra, be aware of how the poses changes once you allow your hands to leave the floor (can you extend your spine a little more?) The wall also allows you to notice that backbends also require strength in the limbs (the legs and arms), not just the core! Use your legs and arms to extend the spine in cobra and lift yourself up in side plank.
Relax and restore
You don’t just have to do wall work. Wall relaxation is great too! We love Legs up the Wall (Viparita Karani in Sanskrit). This mild inversion raises your pelvis higher than your heart and your heart higher than your head. The result? You can relax! Combine this position with the following breathing strategy: inhale 4, pause 2, exhale 6, pause 4… You will allow your nervous system to downregulate; it really is the perfect way to switch off your on switch, plus the pose is great to alleviate swelling and promote venous return.
We hope you enjoyed this week’s series on wall work. As always, we welcome feedback and if there’s a pose you’d like use to explore or a question you have, we are listening! Breathe. Move. Feel.