Hero Pose is a restful yoga pose commonly used for Kundalini or other yoga meditation practices, and it also provides a great stretch for the lower body. Here’s how to do it…
Hero Pose (Virasana) is one of the common alternatives to Lotus or “Easy” Pose, and is often used during meditation. Hero pose is generally very easy for most people to do, and it also offers some great benefits. This is a great pose to help stretch tired legs, including the thighs, knees, and ankles. It also helps to strengthen the feet, reduces swelling of the ankles and legs during pregnancy, and is thought to improve digestion and reduce high blood pressure among other health benefits.
If you have chronic knee or ankle injuries, or heart problems, you should avoid this pose. If your ankles feel strain during this pose, you may place a rolled towel under your ankles before sitting back into the pose. You can also do the pose on top of a folded towel for extra cushioning, place a rolled towel behind your ankles as shown in the photo above, and/or place a block between your feet to sit on. Please use whatever props you need to feel comfortable.
Here is a quick tutorial for Hero Pose:
Kneel on the floor (use a folded blanket or bolster to wedge between your calves and thighs if necessary), with your thighs perpendicular to the floor, and touch your inner knees together. Slide your feet apart, slightly wider than your hips, with the tops of the feet flat on the floor. Angle your big toes slightly in toward each other and press the top of each foot evenly on the floor.
Exhale and sit back halfway, with your torso leaning slightly forward. Wedge your thumbs into the backs of your knees and draw the skin and flesh of the calf muscles toward the heels. Then sit down between your feet.
If your buttocks don’t comfortably rest on the floor, raise them on a block or thick book placed between the feet. Make sure both sitting bones are evenly supported. Allow a thumb’s-width space between the inner heels and the outer hips. Turn your thighs inward and press the heads of the thigh bones into the floor with the bases of your palms. Then lay your hands in your lap, one on the other, palms up, or on your thighs, palms down.
Firm your shoulder blades against the back ribs and lift the top of your sternum like a proud warrior. Widen the collarbones and release the shoulder blades away from the ears. Lengthen the tailbone into the floor to anchor the back torso.
At first stay in this pose from 30 seconds to 1 minute. Gradually extend your stay up to 5 minutes. To come out, press your hands against the floor and lift your buttocks up, slightly higher than the heels. Cross your ankles underneath your buttocks, sit back over the feet and onto the floor, then stretch your legs out in front of you. It may feel good to bounce your knees up and down a few times on the floor.
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(Image Source: Yoga With Adriene)