// HITTING THE WALL: yoga variations
Utilising a wall to assist with balance and support during yoga asanas is nothing new in itself, but the latest development in this technique opens up a world of possibilities says Christian Ruggeri.
Regardless of the discipline practiced, most yoga students are familiar with using a wall as a means to assist with balance or to provide support during certain asanas (poses). But it’s the Iyengar practice of yoga, a style known for its use of props, which has pushed the idea of wall support to a new level.
It might appear daunting at first, but the latest yoga prop to arrive in Australia – the Yoga Wall – is a safe and supportive apparatus that helps students expand their practice. With the first ‘walls’ now opening in Australia, this evolution of wall-yoga is set to increase in popularity among yoga practitioners.
How does it work?
As well as being a dedicated wall space, the Yoga Wall is primarily made up of a system of belts that slide into wall fixtures set at three different heights – ankle, waist and above-head height. The belts can be adjusted to various lengths, are usually formed into large loops, and lock against the wall at the height required by the pose. Slings may also be clipped on to the belts when the body is suspended upside down during full inversions.
Most Yoga Wall poses are related to the floor work usually practiced in a regular class, so they feel very familiar. The key difference is that the apparatus helps participants achieve the correct action of the pose more precisely.
During a class the teacher or instructor should, naturally, provide verbal instructions and demonstrate the asana, before working through the class to ensure that students are executing the poses safely and correctly.
Depending on the theme of the day’s practice, the class can be structured with a combination of floor and wall work, or can simply be dedicated to using the prop. Most new students will get the hang of the Yoga Wall within one session, though of course they should be encouraged to work at their own pace and take longer, if necessary, in order to feel confident.
Awareness, stability, tranquility
The Yoga Wall offers myriad benefits to all students from beginners to advanced. What really gives it the edge over performing a pose in a normal floor class is that it helps you understand the correct ‘action’ of an asana. This means that rather than simply forming the shape of the pose with the body, the practitioner is made more aware of how it should really feel – how to move the skeleton to achieve proper alignment and how to activate and release particular joints and muscles by making adjustments to the body.
It also helps create stability and tranquillity in a pose. Because our minds are typically undisciplined, constantly roaming and easily distracted, achieving this stability in a pose has a profound impact on steadying the nervous system and the breath. This mind body connection is one of the most important benefits of a Wall practice.
The Yoga Wall offers considerable versatility, and can be used to hang from, lean on or push against. In this respect, it acts like a partner, supporting the body while it lengthens, stretches and opens. This enables poses to be held for longer, increasing the flow of energy through the body, and facilitating a far more intense release than can be achieved without the prop’s support.
Experienced students often discover that a Yoga Wall allows them to do things they can’t usually do in a floor class, such as turn completely upside down and hang Batman-style! Meanwhile, students with injuries, such as neck and back problems, may find that a wall liberates them from the limitations of unsupported floor work and provides remedial relief for their condition.
For athletes, a Yoga Wall practice may be as good as a deep tissue massage, allowing for muscular and connective tissue release. And for office workers, working with the prop will help release areas such as shoulders, spine and joints. But Yoga Wall isn’t just for experienced yoga practitioners or athletes – it’s a fun and challenging workout for yoga students of all levels or anyone who wants to benefit from a deep, restorative stretch.
Poses using the Yoga Wall
Downward Facing Dog
Standing Forward Bend
Full Inversion (Sirsasana)
Reverse Triangle Pose
With eight years fitness industry experience, and 15 years of management to his name, Christian is general manager of Elixr Health Clubs, one of the first fitness venues in Australia to feature a Yoga Wall. To find out more about the Yoga Wall, email email@example.com, call 02 8113 8800 or visit www.elixr.com.au