When you’re so keyed up that you can’t even begin to think how to relax, this simple move will start releasing your overwound inner spring in just one-and-a-half minutes, says rehabilitative medicine specialist Loren Fishman, MD, who often recommends it to his patients. “If you can hold it for five-and-a-half minutes,” he says, “you’ll feel you’ve been transported to a tranquil place.” It’s a modified—and much easier—version of a yoga shoulder stand.
How to do it: Sit on the floor, your side against a wall and your legs stretched out in front of you. Then rotate 90 degrees, lifting your legs up so that your buttocks, legs and feet are up against the wall. Now lower your upper body to lie flat on the floor, arms comfortably by your side, palms facing up. Keep your head in alignment with your spine. Now, soften your gaze and allow your throat to relax. Breathe naturally and evenly.
Bonus move: For even greater de-stressing benefit—and an extra stretch—bring your arms overhead to rest comfortably on the floor alongside your head.
To stand back up: When you’re ready to come out of the pose, don’t stand up quickly. Instead, roll to one side and rest for a minute or so first to allow your blood flow to normalize. One caveat: It’s best not to try this pose right after eating, since holding your legs up above your head mildly compresses your stomach and could trigger digestive problems such as gastroesophageal reflux.
To make it more comfortable: Place a rolled-up towel under your neck for additional support. Finding it tough to fully extend your legs while keeping your rear against the wall? Place a pillow under your hips.
Added benefit: “This is a great pose for people with certain vascular problems because it allows blood to drain from the legs. It also stretches the hamstrings, which can help ease low back pain,” says Dr. Fishman.
Enjoy your instant karma!
For more quick stress-boosting moves, see Bottom Line articles “Ease Back Tension in Two Minutes,” “Stress-Busting Move for Tense Hips and Buttocks,” “Sore, Achy Feet? Take the Ball Cure” and “Easily Release the Kinks of a Stressed-Out Neck.”