The Hero Pose yoga or Virasana is a traditional pose. It is an age-old form practiced since long ago. The Sanskrit root name from which the name of this pose is derived in English is Virasana. Many yogis prefer sitting in this position while performing various yoga asanas.
For stiff bodies, it can be nothing less than a challenge. But slowly and steadily with patience and faith in ourselves, we can perform the Hero Pose Yoga. One thing to note is that it can take a few weeks to many months and even more than that to practice the yoga poses correctly.
Who Should Practice the Hero Pose Yoga
This pose is almost like the Vajrasana or the Thunderbolt Pose except that in the Thunderbolt Pose we sit on our heels while in the Hero Pose yoga our heels are on either side of our hips and our gluteus is on the floor.
- The Hero Pose yoga can be practiced by anyone who is beginning or is moderately involved in their yoga journey. Even pregnant women can practice this pose and benefit from it.
- This pose can be practiced by the elderly age group who are suffering from arthritis, muscle pain, soreness, etc.
- It can also be inculcated by youngsters in their daily meditation to increase the flexibility of their thighs, groins, ankles, etc.
- This is ideal for anyone with delicate and tender knees. It is comparatively easier for people who sit in this pose their whole life while watching television but for the rest of us it’s a challenge.
How Virasana Pose Is Unique
Along with having several benefits like elongation and stretching of the quadriceps, gluteus, psoas major, minor, etc, the Virasana pose is also known to relieve stress and get the blood pumping through the whole body.
- Virasana improves posture and also allays the gastrointestinal tract related problems.
- Virasana reduces the after-effects of postmenstrual age in women.
It requires the rotation of thighs internally which is a bit unnatural and tough to follow. This pose is easily mastered by some people, and they practice meditation and prayanam while sitting in Virasana.
But other people find it more comfortable to externally rotate their thighs and have a habit of sitting in the Thunderbolt pose since a very young age.
In the Hero Pose yoga, one is expected to have their feet opened up and the hips placed in between the space. Sometimes the hips are not able to come all the way down to the floor. In these cases, some props and support can be used.
Instructions to do Hero Pose Yoga
- Kneel on the floor with the thighs perpendicular to the ground. The upper torso should be parallel to the floor. Place both the palms facing down on the floor, the arms should be straight downwards.
- Keep the knees together and try opening up the shins of the legs and keep the feet apart as much as possible.
- Now walk your palms back and bring the hips down. Be comfortable and do not force anything.
- Place your buttocks evenly between the heels of the feet. Both the bones should be evenly relaxed on the ground. If the hips do not come entirely down then do not exert the body. Simply use a block or a towel to support the required height.
- If there is too much pressure on the distal part of the feet, use the palms to press down the weight evenly. Gently apply pressure and relax the feet on the floor.
- Keep the body straight, the spine vertical and take a few deep breaths.
- Stay in this posture for about a minute and then release. Bring both the legs in front and extend them freely. Now sit in any desired position. For beginners, this will not be as easy as it seems.
- Try not to force anything at all. And if the buttocks do not come all the way down to the floor then use support, a yoga mat, or a folded towel or a blanket. This will simply provide the required height.
- This is a preferred position for performing meditation and breathing exercises like pranayam for most people.
There are many variations and modifications which can help get through the difficulties and make this pose better if not a bed of roses.
Variations of Hero Pose
Yogis from all around the world have included various steps including the use of props to make this pose more comfortable for beginners.
Use a block
Place a block between the feet. We can snuggle the block between our feet. This just fills up the space between the feet and between the buttocks and the floor. This is an amazing support and also provides height so that the hips rest comfortably and are not left suspended in mid-air.
According to the comfort level, one can use two or three blocks. The yoga block is known to support almost half of the beginners and helps them ease into Virasana or the Hero Pose Yoga.
Use a seiza bench
For anyone suffering from injuries or surgeries of the knee or legs, the block might not prove to be such a good supporter. In those cases, you need another partner and that can be a seiza bench. They help relieve the tension in the muscles and joints. If a seiza bench is not available at home, fear not, we can use objects available at home to make one like it.
Place a block with a comparatively lower height between the feet and a folded blanket or towel on top of it. The towel/mat should be directly under the buttocks. Now relax the lower body and relieve the pressure from the compressed knee muscles and shins.
Use a mat or towel
Sometimes the knees are in an uncomfortable position by pressing on the floor while kneeling. To relieve the tension, we can use a towel or a folded mat to place underneath both the knees. The option of rolling a towel is also available.
Place the rolled towel on the floor and place the knees on it. It feels like a cushion for the knee region. Now relax and give undivided focus to mediation because the virasana has become comfortable and cushiony.
Use a rolled sticky mat
For people with much bigger and bulkier calves, virasana can be a bit tricky. To add space and life the heels a little, use a rolling sticky mat. Place them beneath the feet and come into the posture much more easily.
This is a stress-relieving and rejuvenating modification of the Hero Pose yoga. It is best for all the people who spend their entire day with a crooked back staring at their screen or working at the desk. This gives the back and spine a break from being at work all day long and proves to be a little retreat for them.
Before beginning with this position which is a follow-up pose of the Hero Pose yoga tries pumping up the body for it first. We need to get the blood rushing and the heart pumping for it to be easier.
To ease into the Supta Virasana:
- Use a reclined chair and place a bolster at an acute angle between the four legs of the chair. Sit on two or three blocks, whatever provides height and support, and bend backward slowly.
- Place the arms on the floor with palms down for additional support. Each attempt decreases the angle between the back and the floor.
- Replace the chair with blocks in subsequent attempts. Draw the arms backward and hold the top of the feet with both the arms.
- This will open the hips more and move the feet on either side of the hips.
This pose will release the workload that has accumulated in the back and spine from sitting on the desk all day and keeping the work up to date.
This pose is a much more intense form of the Virasana and for additional support, a sandbag can be placed on the thighs so that they do not come up too much and are relaxed on the floor. It also helps alleviate spine tension. It can also be miraculous for all the nerdy geeks too who study with a bent back for 15-16 hours a day.
Note: Consult a doctor for performing these modifications if undergoing any surgery or sustained injuries in the lower body, the knees, etc.
Partnering in Virasana
Having a partner while performing the Hero Pose yoga can help fix our posture and elongate the spine. The partner can hold the base of the skull while we lengthen the spine bone. A partner can also help open up the space between the shins by holding it apart from their arms or feet.
They can help support the back in the Supta Virasana or the reclined position of the Hero Pose yoga. Major injuries can be avoided by partnering with someone. It also gives us motivation as we will not be performing virasana alone anymore. Following all, we can move forward in life by helping others.
Hero Pose Benefits
Performing Virasana can be helpful for not just the old age groups so do not underestimate this pose. It is beneficial in some way or the other to everyone irrespective of age.
- Among the many benefits, the major advantage of practicing virasana is that it has proved to be useful for elderly people suffering from osteoarthritis.
- It also always causes pain in the lower legs, muscle soreness, etc. Has proved to increase the flexibility of the lower body and improves the blood circulation. Relieves the fatigue throughout the lower part of the body.
- Due to its benefits of improving blood circulation, it is directly beneficial for people suffering from high blood pressure.
- Women benefit more than men from this miraculous pose as it decreases the symptoms in postmenopausal women. In pregnant ladies, it is known to reduce swelling in the legs.
- Virasana improves the gastrointestinal tract related problems like indigestion, bloating, acidity, etc.
- It relieves the stressed-up spine in people working at desk jobs. And therefore, releases the tension.
- This pose can release the pressure from the compressed muscles of the lower body and has proven to be a preferred pose for practicing meditation and many breathing exercises.
- It stretches the leg muscles and elongates the calves, thighs, and all the tight muscles involved.
- By improving posture virasana improves the flat foot in people. It strengthens the legs and the arches.
- As it is used for practicing meditation, it calms the body, helps find peace and comfort. Improves the stimulus and awareness of the surroundings. We become aware of our breathing and feel the stillness in the air.
Our mind is relaxed and refreshed and like power, nap provides our mind with the relaxation we need and recharges it.
Benefits of Hero Pose as per Ayurveda
This pose benefits the body and mind in numerous ways and relieves the tension in the lower limbs. This pose is grouped under the foundations of yoga. This is a tough nut to crack for people beginning with their yoga journeys.
This pose requires a lot of flexibility and strength and as we proceed with our journey, we achieve these milestones. Virasana has various benefits according to Ayurveda.
- It impacts the chakras and makes us feel down to earth and connected to nature. Hero Pose positively impacts our mind and balances the weighing negative thoughts.
- Hero Pose influences the root chakra and opens up our senses to the world. Makes us more content and passionate about whatever we choose to do.
- By breaking our self-centeredness, it makes us realize what we want and what we are doing. It is a bit like soul-searching.
- It can stabilize our mind in a world constantly surrounded by negative emotions of comparing, complaining, and criticizing.
- We feel enlightened and closer to god and deeply rooted. Our positive emotions of compassion and kindness are accentuated.
- It controls our doshas and relieves major gastrointestinal disturbances and ailments. It improves the conditions of indigestion, gas, acidity, and bloating.
- The Hero Pose yoga also refreshes our mind and improves concentration, attention span, and acts as a stress buster. It is known to improve focus and headaches. Virasana also impacts the lower body and is known as a lower body yoga practice.
- It strengthens the Mamsa Dhatu while including the muscles- the quadriceps, gluteus, psoas and stretches the limbs.
- Hero Pose also improves the posture and alignment of the body.
- It releases the pressure from the compressed and fatigued legs. Meditation and breathing exercises followed along with the pose improves asthmatic conditions.
- It also improves heart ailments by controlling blood pressure. Improved blood pressure helps make heart conditions better. Yoga has so many benefits than we are not even aware of right now. With experience, there will be more discoveries and more benefits that yoga has to offer.
- The health of our knees and their strength improves to many folds and makes us flexible and strong.
Major illnesses like osteoarthritis, soreness, and gastric problems can be improved without taking medication. By just following the hero pose yoga we have gained so much by the ayurvedic and medical benefits.
Do’s and Don’ts for doing Virasana Yoga pose
While practicing every pose be mindful to not exert the body more than it can take. Release the pose if it causes any pain. These are the tips and tricks you should keep in mind for making Virasana easier and more comfortable.
- Do not put pressure on the knees. This is an exercise for healthy knees. It is known to improve health and make the knees strong from the tender. Use a blanket, a towel, or a yoga mat and place it under the knee caps. Fold the towel to two or more layers for an extra cushiony effect and see the towel or blanket being a pillow to the knees.
- For people beginning with their yoga journey, a block is recommended if they find any difficulty in forming the pose. This is used for people who cannot bring their hips down to rest on the floor evenly. The block acts as a platform to provide support and height to the ischium.
- Virasana can be difficult for beginners who have tight and stiff thighs, ankles, and groins. To relax your body into virasana try similar yoga poses and then slowly practice the pose for a short interval. With time and practice increase the time duration of holding the body in that position.
- Sometimes our distal inner part of the feet press more into the floor and it is not evenly relaxed. This can put pressure on the feet and make the posture uncomfortable. To evenly spread the feet, gently press both palms on the feet.
- Increase the spinal benefits and ask a partner to grasp the base of the head and to hold it with their thumb and index finger and pull it. Press your coccyx down and feel your spine elongating and releasing all the pain and tension.
- If at any point the pose gets uncomfortable or painful then immediately release from the pose and relax.
Precautions to practice Virasana
- This pose is not for people who have undergone major surgeries or have sustained injuries of the ankle, knee, or leg. Consult a certified yoga instructor before proceeding.
- This pose is also not recommended for people with heart problems or headaches.
- If at any point pain is felt then consult a doctor.
Follow Up and Preparatory Poses for Virasana
Yoga is a beautiful and relaxing amalgamation of many poses and postures. Here are some other poses to practice before and after Virasana:
Bound Angle Pose
Beginners can try an easier version after releasing the Hero Pose. Simply bring your feet together, in front of your groin, with knees facing outwards, hold the toes with the fingers and push the hips down. Look up towards the ceiling and take a few deep breaths for a minute.
Reclining Hero Pose
In Virasana bend your upper body down on the floor with the head facing towards the ceiling and the arms above them straight and relaxed. Slowly relax your upper torso completely on the floor. This will take practice but is ideal for relieving the spinal tension for people with desk jobs or sitting with crooked back for long hours.
From Virasana bring the heels of both the feet together and sit with the buttock on the shins. Place the arms in a relaxed position on the thighs or for an intermediate level try joining the palms of both hands together behind your back in a namaskar.
This is a preparatory pose and is performed before Virasana. In Thunderbolt Pose lean forward and bring the upper torso to touch the floor. Now place the arms straight ahead of the head.
This pose is used for mediation and is much easier and more comfortable than Virasana or the Hero Pose yoga. Bring both your feet forward and sit cross-legged by both the feet on the opposite thigh. Now stretch the arms and place them on the knees in meditation position and breathe.
The Hero Pose yoga or Virasana is the best exercise for the lower limbs and acts as a good flexibility pose for the lower body. With various benefits and little contraindications, it can be performed and practiced by almost everyone. Only if there is a major injury or surgery, it has to be avoided.
This pose can take a few weeks to a few months to master and takes a lot of patience. It is important to stay calm and composed during formation. Avoid pushing the body way beyond its limits and do not strain the muscles.
Yoga is after all about being yourself and being connected to yourself. The Hero Pose is just another step in the path of finding ourselves.