Virasana, Hero’s pose (& Reclined)’s meaning
Hero Pose, Virasana | Come sit with your knees touching and your feet a little bit wider than your hips. Take time to note that the feet are directed straight back, not curling in or turning outwards.
Place your fingers into the crease of the knees and press the flesh of your thighs down, making space between the bones of your shins and the thigh bone. As you make space with your hands, gently sit your bum in-between your feet, making sure that your feet don’t change.
Pull the flesh of your bum out so that you are really sitting on your sit bones. Placing your hands on your thighs (any mudra that works for you), press the sit bones into the floor and lengthen up through the crown of your head.
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Spreading your toes wide and pressing the toenails into the floor, draw the outer ankles in and notice how that helps adds to the blood flowing through the legs.
Once you’ve hung out here for a while, what’s really nice is to begin to recline, which further opens the hip flexors and begins to lengthen the muscles of the back. You begin slowly, by placing the hands behind you and pivoting your pelvis forward while still keeping the bum grounded.
Your hip flexors will start talking to most of you. Simply lean back and enjoy, breathing into tightness which is due to a lack of oxygen and blood flow.
Through your ujjayi breathing, increase the oxygen and wait for the feeling of increased circulation. Then begin to walk the hands back further, pivoting the pelvis deeper as you move.
If it’s OK, let your elbows come onto the floor. Keep the knees together and pressing into the floor throughout your journey. If you feel like more, continue moving down so that you are lying back on the floor. Be happy.
Why Hero Pose | Virasana & Supra Virasana?
Think of sitting in a chair. When we do this for a long period of time, (car, desk at work/home, plane, etc.) our hamstrings are shortened due to the lack of usage. When the hamstrings contract, the lower back muscles contract.
Our torso and legs live in an “L” shape and don’t get to experience the opposite, so the hip flexors, always in a flexed position, don’t receive any fresh blood and get tight.
So if no blood is getting there, the whole lower abdomen and lower organs aren’t getting any real circulation.
And for many of us, our knees start to act up the moment we finally stand up. Virasana is actually a panacea for all of these obstacles.
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So I kept doing yoga to take my gaze away from what I saw in the mirror to the beauty I connected to through my breath. My pain went away.
The garbage in my mind went away.
The result was freedom and such joy, I had to share it. I really love helping others connect to their own freedom and joy. The word “wheee” comes into use often when I teach….And why not?
Flexes the lower legs, hips, and back.
Refreshes and revitalizes fatigued limbs.
An excellent substitute for the Lotus position for meditating.
If your knees hurt in this posture, try sitting on a cushion or block behind your heels to raise your hips.
Stay away from it if you have a knee or ankle injury.
Come into the position gradually while maintaining the hips high with sitting on props like a yoga block or cushions if your quadriceps (front thigh muscle) are tight. The stretch should be felt more in the muscle’s tummy than at its attachment points in the knees.
Advice for the Novice
If you’re experiencing knee pain, try propping yourself up as much as possible so that your hips are higher than your knees.
A smart solution is to place cushions or blocks in between your feet.
You may work up to the complete posture by first practicing with one of your legs folded underneath and the other extended straight in front of you.
Increase the time you spend in the posture gradually.
If the stretch is too much for your sore ankles, try placing a rolled-up blanket under your feet.
Maintain a strong, even pressure on the soles of your feet, and squeeze your inner ankles together.
Who: Hero Pose | Virasana Explored by Jeanne Heileman
I was introduced to yoga twenty years ago in theatre school in San Francisco and I still remember how safe and accepted I felt in that class, more than any other class in the program. (Actors can tend to be quite critical of others and prone to their own insecurities.)
We were encouraged to look and feel inside more than outside and I just fell in love with the whole idea, wanting to go further into this exploration.
I was diagnosed with scoliosis in high school. As I got older it got worse and I started watching my body turn into a crooked, un-female contortion, which also created a lot of pain and mental garbage.