Greetings yogis! For this week’s Fun Pose Friday we’re taking a look at a lesser known position, krounchasana, Sanskrit for heron pose. If you are familiar with hero pose, heron pose could be considered a version of it.
To get into heron, start in a seated position, with your legs stretched out in front of you. Bend your right knee and bring the right foot back near your hip, transitioning into half hero pose, or ardha virasana.
Bend the knee of the left leg and place the left foot on your mat. Grab onto the left leg with both hands and start to lift the leg.
Lean back slightly and maintain a straight spine as you lift the leg to about a 45 degree angle. Ideally, your foot should be as high, or higher, than your head.
Hold the pose for 30 to 60 seconds and release the right leg back down to the mat on an exhale.
To bring your right leg out of half hero pose safely, press hands firmly onto the mat and lift your tailbone up. Bring the right foot underneath the buttocks and then stretch the right leg out in front of you.
Switch legs and repeat these steps to get the stretch on both sides.
If you have knee or ankle problems, steer clear of the half hero leg position and instead try bringing the foot of the leg that remains on the floor up against the thigh of the opposite leg. This is the position known in Sanskrit as janu sirsasana.
If you have difficulty straightening the raised leg or are struggling to keep length in the back, try placing a strap around the sole of the foot of the leg you are raising. If using a strap doesn’t make it possible to straighten the leg AND the spine, put some bend in the knee, but still try to keep length in the back.
Here’s another version if you’ve got sensitive knees (demonstrated by the beautiful Krista Block).
For those that heron pose comes to easily, you can increase the stretch by bending the elbows out to the sides of the raised leg and bringing the leg up against the torso. Make sure the back remains straight and long if you choose to take this option.
Some benefits of heron pose include:
• Stretches the hamstrings
• Stimulates the abdominal organs and heart
For more instruction on heron pose, Yoga Journal offers great step-by-step instructions. This video is also super helpful.
Have a great weekend yogis! See you on the mat!