Hero Pose (or in Sanskrit Vīrāsana) and Reclining Hero Pose (or in Sanskrit) Supta Vīrāsana is an intermediate posture that can be adapted for beginners through props. What makes this an intermediate asana instead of a beginners posture is that it can be difficult on the knees. For some, a simple block under the buttock or a blanket/bolster make all the difference.

Although Hero Pose is a great addition to any asana practice, Reclining Hero Pose is typically practiced in a Restorative Yoga setting as the use of props eases stress on students knees allowing this asana the ability to help stretch tight quadriceps, the deep hip flexors, and the abdomen in a gentle fashion. Through the props used in Restorative Yoga classes, you can play with different variations of this asana until you find the variation the works best for your student, based on their individual needs. For an example of this asana, watch the below video. This video demonstrates a variation that is similar to the ones discussed in your textbook “RESTORATIVE YOGA FOR LIFE”. However, it is between variation 1 and 2 in height and props used.

 

For benefits on this asana, see below:

Benefits
• Stretches and strengthens the shoulders, spine, groin, quadriceps, hamstrings, knees, and ankles. This increases flexibility and strengthens the tendons around the ankles and knees.
• Relieves stiffness and tension in the neck, shoulders, hip joints, groin, and knees. This also aids with pain in the back, calf muscles, ankles, and heels, as well as reduces the pain of a deviated, broken, or fused tailbone.
• Improves posture and alignment, as well as focus.
• Aids in digestions and relieves flatulence, as well as relieves symptoms of hyperacidity.
• Therapeutic for students with asthma, high blood pressure, and rheumatic pains in the knees, feet, and ankles.
• Helps relieve symptoms of menopause and menstrual discomfort.
• Increases blood circulation, especially in the legs. This helps calm the mind and helps with anxiety, stress, and mild depression.

To get the full benefits out of this asana, be sure to look out for common adjustments that may need to be made.

Common Adjustments
• Shoulders strained or up toward ears
• Back arched / Rounded Lower back
• Chest collapsed
• Hips not in alignment and facing forward
• Hips in the air or to the side
• Knees are not together (depends on variation)
• Knees not pointing straight
• Knee or ankle discomfort or pain
• Leg cramps
• Heels and toes not in line
• Heels not next to thighs (depends on variation)

Also be aware of the below contraindications.

Contraindications
1. Students with stiffness, discomfort, or injury in the knees or ankles should avoid this pose unless proper guidance is available.
2. Students, who are pregnant or have a headache, should avoid this pose or use modifications.
3. Students with cardiac or other circulatory concerns, have a heart disease, or have osteoarthritis should avoid this pose.
4. It is important to stretch before doing this pose.


As a side note, since we mentioned traditional Hero Pose above, here is some information on this asana. See below for a picture that provides cues and a video that demonstrates how to practice this asana with a block.

Keep in mind that the contraindications mentioned above also apply to this variation. However, modifications can be applied to assist with this. See below for some modifications.

Modifications
• Student who experience too much pressure on the knees and ankles, can either: a) spread their knees farther apart, b) place their toes at a 45-degree angle away from the thighs, c) place a block under their hips (between the feet) and a towel behind the knees, d) place a blanket behind the knees, e) place a blanket under the knees and/or ankles, f) place a bolster or block under the hips and between the feet to relieve the pressure, or g) they can sit in a kneeling chair.
• For students that need assistance with flexibility, have them practice facing away from a wall with their knee to foot up the wall.
• For students that would like a challenge, have them bring their feet closer to each other. Then they can place them on each other with the soles pointing away from them toward the back wall. Next, they can place the sit bones on the heels of the feet, bringing the hips higher. *Do with caution.

For this variation, see below for the chakras that are affected in this posture, compare them to the chakras affected by Reclining Hero Pose to see how they differ.

Chakras
Chakra One:Root or Muladhara (root support) Chakra. This is the survival and gravity chakra. Its goals are stability, grounding, prosperity, right livelihood, and physical health. Its location is the base of the spine, coccygeal plexus, legs, feet, and large intestines.
Chakra Two:Sacral or Svadhisthana (sweetness) Chakra. This is the chakra for emotion, sexuality, and attraction of opposites. Its goals are fluidity, pleasure, and relaxation. Its location is the abdomen, genitals, lower back, and hips.
Chakra Six:Third-Eye or Ajna (to perceive) Chakra. This is the intuition and projection chakra. Its goals are psychic perception and imagination. Its location is the brow.


Lastly, for quick reference to how the chakras and doshic balance are affected in Reclining Hero Pose, see below.

Chakras
Chakra Two: Sacral or Svadhisthana (sweetness) Chakra. This is the chakra for emotion, sexuality, and attraction of opposites. Its goals are fluidity, pleasure, and relaxation. Its location is the abdomen, genitals, lower back, and hips.
Chakra Three:Solar Plexus, Self-Power, or Manipura (lustrous gem) Chakra. This is the combustion, power, and energy chakra. Its goals are vitality, strength of will, and purpose. Its location is the solar plexus.
Chakra Four:Heart, Love, or Anahata (Unstuck) Chakra. This is the love and equilibrium chakra. Its goals are balance, compassion, and acceptance. Its location is the heart.

Doshas
VataThis dosha is balanced in this asana.
PittaThis dosha is increased in this asana.
KaphaThis dosha is increased in this asana.


Additional information on this asana

  • In the textbook “YOGA: THE PATH TO HOLISTIC HEALTH by B.K.S. Iyengar you can find Reclining Hero Pose and Hero Pose along with modifications that can be practiced with props.
    • CHAPTER 4: ASANAS FOR YOU
      • Reclining Asanas
        • Supta Virasana (Reclining hero stretch pose) *without props
    • CHAPTER 5: YOGA FOR STRESS
      • Asanas for Stress
        • Supta Virasana (Reclining hero pose) *with props
    • CHAPTER 4: ASANAS FOR YOU
      • Sitting Asanas
        • Virasana (Hero pose) *without props
    • CHAPTER 5: YOGA FOR STRESS
      • Yoga for Stress
        • Virasana (Hero pose) *with props

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