TGIF! Today’s fun pose friday blog post is Hero Pose or Virasana.
vira = man, hero, chief
**Warning:** If you have sensitive knees or ankles, please modify. This one could be killer on them! Let’s talk about the benefits of this pose and how to modify as well as a deeper variation of hero pose.
- Stretches the thighs, knees, and ankles
- Strengthens the arches
- Improves digestion and relieves gas
- Helps relieve the symptoms of menopause
- Reduces swelling of the legs during pregnancy (through second trimester)
- Therapeutic for high blood pressure and asthma
- Hero pose is also a great pose to practice if you struggle with allergies
How to get your Hero on:
1. Kneel on the floor (on a folded blanket or mat to pad your knees, shins, and feet if necessary), with your thighs perpendicular to the floor, and touch your inner knees together. Slide your feet apart, slightly wider than your hips, with the tops of the feet flat on the floor. Angle your big toes slightly in toward each other and press the top of each foot evenly on the floor. If you have ankle pain, you can also use a blanket behind you, under your feet/ankles for support.
2. Exhale and sit back halfway, with your torso leaning slightly forward. Then sit down between your feet.
3. If your butt doesn’t comfortably rest on the floor, raise them on a block or thick book placed between the feet. Lay your hands in your lap, one on the other, palms up, or on your thighs, palms down.
4. Firm your shoulder blades against the back ribs and lift the top of your sternum. Widen the collarbones and release the shoulder blades away from the ears. Lengthen the tailbone into the floor to anchor the back torso.
5. At first stay in this pose from 30 seconds to 1 minute. Gradually extend your stay up to 5 minutes. To come out, press your hands against the floor and lift your butt up, slightly higher than the heels. Cross your ankles underneath your butt, sit back over the feet and onto the floor, then stretch your legs out in front of you. It may feel good to bounce your knees up and down a few times on the floor.
Hero variation: Reclining Hero Pose or Supta Virasana
This pose is a deeper version and an intermediate/advanced variation of virasana. Please DO NOT try this version if your booty doesn’t sit comfortably on the ground between your feet in virasana.
1. Exhale and lower your back torso toward the floor. First lean onto your hands, then your forearms and elbows. Once you are on your elbows, place your hands on the back of the pelvis and release your lower back and upper buttocks. Then finish reclining, either onto the floor or a support (like a blanket).
2. It’s alright to lift your knees a little away from the floor to help soften your groins; in fact, you can raise your knees a few inches on a thickly folded blanket. You can also allow a little bit of space between your knees as long as your thighs remain parallel to each other. Do not, however, allow the knees to splay apart wider than your hips – this will cause strain on the hips and lower back.
3. To begin, stay in this pose for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Gradually extend your stay to 5 minutes. To come out, press your forearms against the floor and come onto your hands. Then use your hands to lift your torso into virasana. As you come up, lead with your sternum, not your head or chin.
To deepen this pose even further, you can raise your arms towards the ceiling and stretch them overhead on the floor, palms up (facing the ceiling). Grab opposite elbows if you like and enjoy!
See you on the mat!