Hero pose (in Sanskrit known as Virasana) is a simple seated pose, and a good way to start your personal practice. It can be done sitting on the heels, or made kinder on knees and ankles by sitting on two or three blocks placed between the ankles; the feet should point backwards and the sitting bones placed firmly in the middle of the blocks.
Although it might seem easy and require no extreme physical effort, this classical seated posture can be challenging the longer you stay in it. The ankles in particular soon become painful if they are not flexible enough to maintain this position.
The benefits of hero pose aren’t immediately obvious, so don’t be tempted to move too quickly on to stronger asanas. The pose increases flexibility in the knees and ankles, teaches internal rotation in the thighs, reduces tension in the legs, and is said to aid digestion and soothe abdominal discomfort.
It is also one of the classical seated postures for meditation and breath awareness. When your body is properly supported, you can sit in virasana for several minutes at a time, becoming aware of the natural curves of your spine, the contours of your chest, the movement of your breath, and other internal sensations. In essence, it allows you to bring your intention inwards, which lies at the heart of yoga.
Take care with your knees, and don’t stay in the posture if you experience any pain. When you’re ready to come out, rock forward on your knees and place your hands on the floor in front of you. Slowly stretch your legs back behind you one at a time. A good follow on pose is downward dog.
A reminder of some of this week’s class below:
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