Help! I Keep Slipping Down The Wall Doing L Pose

by Elsie on July 30, 2012

Yoga Q & A: A little of this and a little of that, all yoga related and all aimed at empowering your own practice wherever you are

The following question came via email from one of my students/friends/yoga teachers. Hope it helps you out!

Slipping Down The Wall Doing L Pose At The Wall

Dear Elsie,

I was doing class 92 and my feet just kept sliding down the wall. I know I am strong enough. I know I got the energy right, but the wall is very smooth like a sliding board.

I was able to do it in the yoga studio Thursday, but I had my 5-finger running shoes on which gave me some traction.

I plan to teach this pose on Sunday morning.

What can I do if students slide down???

Thanks sweet love,


Get Your Heart Open and Lengthen

YouTube Preview Image

Let’s start with some out of our control logistics first that make you slip so much in yoga!: sweaty feet and/or slippery wall. Here are some things you can do to deal with slipping all over the place in yoga.

Alignment/Action in the body in Handstand Prep aka L Pose at the wall

Make sure that you open the shoulders as much as you can before getting to L pose

  • Let your warm-up portion of your practice include lots of shoulder openers
  • Use every posture, particularly downward facing dog to work on optimally opening the shoulders via shoulder loop. (side body long, head of the arm bone back, shoulder blades flat on the back, expand)
  • Key actions in Downward Dog: press the hand down, lift the arm pits up, let the heart soften right in between the shoulder blades.

In addition to the shoulders in L pose, inner spiral (all three actions: thighs in, back and apart) again in down dog do wonders for taking the pressure off the downward momentum when moving into L pose.

Being able to keep the heart open and the lower back/hips spacious can make walking up the wall much easier.

When there is less mobility in those areas, particularly in the transition into the pose, you have to work much harder with the legs (and arms).

Working into L Pose at the Wall:

  • Do a full, powerful Downward Facing Dog to prep.
  • Variation: put heels on the wall and really work shoulder loop and inner spiral. Get that bum up!
  • (FOR TEACHERS ONLY) Make sure students get that feeling in their body. Ask questions, pay attention, and try something else, if you feel they haven’t quite go it.
  • (FOR TEACHERS ONLY) Draw attention to how high their bum is in Downward Dog (make sure THEY see/feel how far off the ground their bum is) and that when moving to L pose it should be that high, even while transitioning up.

Heart to the wall, bum up to the sky at the same time

Something that I do to give another perspective in going up the wall, especially regarding the slippage, and giving those that are having a hard time getting up, is to also teach L pose at the wall with headstand arms (no head on the floor) Following is a video of that:

YouTube Preview Image

Sometimes I find that doing that pose will get people up the wall with less slippage. Some can actually do it!

This is a great teaching tool to feel the pose, as well recognize that (for some) it’s not the slipperiness of the wall but how open other parts of the body are.

So what did you guys think?

Do you have a hard time doing L Pose at the wall because you slip down? Let me know your thoughts!

Image credit via CC slip carefully

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{ 40 comments… read them below or add one }

Lola July 30, 2012 at 5:57 pm

Hi Elsie,

I think also important is pressing fronts of thighs to backs of thighs, just like in down dog. Keep those femurs lifting UP towards the ceiling! I would say that slipping in this pose is only rarely caused by slippery wall/feet/hands and is mostly due to core strength and/or spacing issues (hands too far from wall). I find this pose is much harder work for the muscles of the upper body than regular handstand! Another issue my students have when exploring this pose is some walk their feet way too far up the wall and end up in some sort of strange pike shape…so your cue for “place your foot at sit bone level” is a good one.


Elsie July 30, 2012 at 6:11 pm

Lola! Absolutely, those femurs going back is SOOOOO KEY!!!! Once in the pose it’s great to work on that action to stay up 🙂

And yes the strange pike shape and hands being too far from the wall do absolutely come into play with the issues with this pose.

I happened to have one of my students that has had a hard time getting up come to class right after I shot this video, and for her I knew that the issue was all about the heart.

There was no mobility there and the weight of the pose kept moving her down. I chose to focus on that action this time because I felt it was the first step to actually getting up the wall, tee hee. She got up! She was so happy!

Thanks SO much for your input! I hope folks read these comments as well as I want them to read what you have to say!

And agreed, this is much more challenging in the upper body than handstand!


kikichen May 23, 2013 at 3:30 am

when pratice L pose ,how long do you suggest to stay in this position each time?


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