Virasana, also known as Hero Pose, strengthens the arches of the feet while stretching the legs and ankles simultaneously.
The pose is great for relieving menstrual pain, indigestion and flatulence. Experts believe that Hero Pose can help with asthma and high blood pressure.
|Known as:||Virasana, Hero Pose|
|Total time:||60 seconds|
|Chakra:||Swadisthana Chakra, Muladhara Chakra|
|Indications:||High blood pressure, lower back, function of the hip, knee, and ankle joints; indigestion, flatulence, menstrual pain, thyroid and parathyroid productivity|
|Counterposes:||Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog Pose), Paschimottanasana (Seated Forward Bend Pose)|
|Preparatory poses:||Bound Angle Pose, Child’s Pose|
|Follow-up poses:||Crow Pose, Lotus Pose, Heron Pose, One-Legged Reclining Hero Pose|
|Contraindications:||Heart disease, arthritis, knee or ankle injury|
Meaning + Origin
The Virasana is derived from the Sanskrit name, which is made up of two words — Vira + asana:
- “Vira” = “hero or warrior or man or chief”
- “asana” = “pose or posture”
Vira is said to the person who is ‘brave or conquerors over something’. Usually a hero is known for his action but his valor looks more spectacular in the end when he has won. The same analogy goes for Lord (Vira) Hanuman, who is seen kneeling before Lord Rama after the great war and hence is also known as “Vira Hanuman” (mighty but humble).
Sitting in Virasana is a symbol of victory over thoughts, desires and inner turmoil that makes us our hero. Yes, if you sit properly in this posture, it becomes very easy to concentrate the mind and hence for a while you can feel your inner hero.
Virasana is one of the oldest and traditional asana for pranayama and meditation. It is described in Yogic texts — Vyasa’s Commentary on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, Light on Yoga by BKS Iyengar, Ashtanga Vinayasa Yoga.
However, chanting or mantra in Lotus Pose or Siddhasana is preferred. However, a you can choose Virasana or Vajrasana if you are unable to sit in this yoga posture for extended periods of time. Apart from Vajrasana, this is the only yoga asana that can be performed after a meal, as it stimulates the digestive system.
Benefits of Virasana (Hero Pose)
This yoga asana reduces swelling of the feet in pregnancy. It also improves the posture of your spine by straightening your spine and helps athletes to practice this yoga asana after running as it cools down the feet.
However, the physical and mental benefits of this yoga pose are listed below:
- Physical Benefits:
- Improves the health and function of the hip, knee, and ankle joints
- Opens the lower back
- Helps relieve high blood pressure
- Stimulates thyroid and parathyroid productivity
- Reduces the burning sensation, bloating or gassiness, nausea or feeling full too quickly after starting to eat
- Helps relieve menopausal discomfort
- Mental Benefits:
- Calms the mind
- Creates a feeling of grounding and stability
Steps to Virasana (Hero Pose)
Kneel on the floor. Keep the thighs parallel and the knees hip-width apart. Engage your feet and calves by pressing all ten toes into the floor.
Bring your forehead to the floor and place your hands on the calves behind your knees. Press the fingers into your calves with a steady pressure and slide the hands toward the ankles to evenly flatten your calves.
Bring your buttocks to the floor and place your hands on your thighs, palms down. Lower your sit bones and lengthen from the core of your pelvis to the crown of your head. Maintain a natural curve in your spine. Keep your ankles on the sides of your hips. Keep pressing your toes into the floor and clasping your ankles in toward your hips.
Maintain this posture for 60 seconds or for the duration of your meditation or pranayama practice. To release the pose, press your palms firmly into the floor and lift your buttocks. Cross your ankles and shins under your body, and then extend your legs straight out in front of you in Dandasana (Staff Pose).
The safest way to practice Virasana, especially in the beginning, is to sit on a folded blanket or block. This enforces proper positioning of your knees and thighs to avoid injury. You should not feel pain in your knees when you are in the Hero Pose. If you feel pain at all, stop and add some height to support your hip.
Props and modifications of Hero Pose
Since this is such a deep stretch for your knees, it’s important to take the pose slowly, use support if necessary, and make whatever modifications you need to make to feel stable, secure, and supported in the pose. Try these simple props and modifications to find the variation of the pose that works best for you:
- When your buttocks are not reaching down — Place a block or thick folded towel to raise the level of the bottom of your buttocks and sit on top of it. Make sure the seating bones are evenly distributed across the block or raised surface.
- When there is pain in your knee joint — It is due to your tight biceps femoris muscles. To ease the posture in this position, place a thin, tightly rolled blanket behind the knees and then sit on a block placed under the buttocks.
- If your ankles are overstretched — Again, in this position, you can place a rolled up yoga blanket in front of the ankles such that only the toes are lightly pressed into the mat.
- Experiment with different heights of support to find the best fit for you. If the ankles need extra padding in the this posture, place a rolled-up towel or blanket under each before fully coming into the posture.
- If you are practicing the pose as part of your meditation, you can bring your hands into the correct position instead of placing them on your thighs.
- To add a torso stretch to the pose, extend the arms forward until they are parallel to the floor with the palms facing forward. Hook your thumb. Then, on an inhale, raise your arms overhead until they’re perpendicular to the floor, with your palms facing forward. Exhale to lower your arms and release. Change your thumb hook and repeat.
Virasana vs Vajrasana
Virasana and Vajrasana looks similar but the position of your feet is different in both the asanas.
- In Virasana, your feet sit near your hips and your bones on the floor.
- In Vajrasana, your feet are together and your sitting bones rest on your ankles.
Precautions and contraindications
- The pose is a comfortable sitting posture for meditation or pranayama, but there is excessive strain on the knees and ankles while sitting, so there can be a great risk if one is too stiff in the knees and ankles or down. Injuries to knees or ankles. If you have an ankle or knee injury, you should consult an experienced yoga teacher/instructor before performing this pose.
- If you have heart problems or a headache, you should avoid practicing Virasana or Hero Pose.