Hero pose (Virasana) is a simple yet powerful seated pose that can be used for meditation, pranayama, or even after a meal to aid with digestion. Despite its unassuming nature, this pose reminds us that it’s not necessarily the most physically impressive poses that are the most “heroic” — rather, the act of sitting in quiet stillness is a feat in and of itself! Take your time building up to longer holds of this pose, and whenever the mind begins to wander, remember to come back to the breath as an anchor for your attention.
Benefits Of Hero Pose
Hero pose is a relaxing, meditative pose that stretches the thighs, knees and ankles, strengthens the arches of the feet, and also improves digestion. It can also be therapeutic during menopause and can help to reduce swelling in the legs and feet during pregnancy. Those with any knee and ankle issues or injuries should practice this pose with caution.
Hero Pose Step-By-Step
- Begin in a kneeling position with the tops of the feet down on the mat, bringing the knees together to touch.
- Come up to stand on the knees, and separate your feet just wider than hip-distance apart. Point your big toes in slightly and press the toenails and the top of each foot evenly into the floor.
- Use your hands to move the flesh of the calves out of the way, and slowly sit down between your feet. Note that this pose can be intense on the knees, so be sure to have a bolster, block or a thick book handy to place between your feet in case sitting down causes any pain in the knees or if the sitting bones don’t reach the floor.
- Relax your shoulders away from your ears and lengthen up and out of the crown of your head. Rest your palms face up or face down on your thighs, or take your hands into the mudra of your choice.
- Remain in the pose anywhere from 5 to 30 full, deep breaths, depending on your level of comfort. To come out of the pose, plant the palms on the mat in front of you, slowly make your way onto hands and knees, then swing both shins over to one side and extend both legs straight out in front of you.
- If there is any pain or extreme discomfort in the knees, elevate the sit bones on a block. For those who experience sensation in the tops of the feet or ankles, try tucking a rolled up blanket or a folded towel beneath the feet for added support.
- If the knees begin to bow apart, loop a strap around the thighs to keep the legs together and avoid overusing the adductors.
- Note the tendency for the inner edges of the feet to collapse in more heavily than the outer edges of the feet, and use the hands to gently press the pinky toe edges of the feet into the floor.
- For an added challenge, try moving into Reclining Hero pose by walking the palms back behind you and slowly coming down onto the forearms or lowering all the way onto the back. Keep the knees pressing down into the floor, and ease off as soon as the knees begin to lift.