Fall is the perfect time to take a moment, regroup and connect to the things that are important in ourlives. As we embark onto this season, I am reminded to take a breathe and watch the beauty that surrounds me. It is entrancing with the colourful leaves, brisk winds and seasonal smells. It also reminds me about how blessed I am to have the opportunity to experience all of the seasons to the fullest. When I need to regroup, I find that grounding postures are my favourite way to do this: especially with Virasana: Hero Posture and Supta Virasana.
At first, hero pose (Virasana) seems a strange name for this seated posture: Vira, means man or hero in Sanskrit. This posture appears to be fairly simple. However, when you consider the vast benefits both in mind and body, the word hero just seems to make sense. This pose has benefits for individuals with asthma, high blood pressure, menopause, digestion and overall tension to name a few. Virasana gently encourages our body out of its norm encouraging mobility in our knees and flexibility in our hips.
Often recommended as an alternative posture for mediation, Virasana (hero pose) forces our body away from the traditional crossed leg poses and proposes an alternative solution: our legs bent to each side of our buttocks.
1) Start out by kneeling
2) Bring your inner knees together so that they touch
3) Slide your feet apart, so that they rest on either side of your buttock.
When completing hero pose, pay attention to your feet. Press the heel of your palm on the outer edge and gently encourage the pinky-toe sides of the feet to the floor. This will counteract the natural tendency of the inner top of the feet pressing more into the floor than the outer.
This gentle pressure encourages that your whole foot, both the inner and outer top, press into the floor evenly.
4) Sit back, with the end goal being that your buttock touches the floor. Use bolsters or a blanket to assist.
5) Take a deep breathe and sit tall. Picture a hero and show that pride in your upper body. Breathe.
6) Pay attention to your upper body. Relax your shoulders, keep your torso strong. Continue to breathe.
Benefits of Hero Pose
- Strengthens the arches
- Improves digestion
- Relieves symptoms of menopause
- Relieves swelling of legs (something that often occurs during second trimester of pregnancy)
Hero pose was a posture that seemed to come naturally to me , I’ve been doing variations of the asana since early childhood. However, for some individuals hero pose can be quite challenging especially if you have any knee or ankle concerns. If you are new to this pose, please take your time. Although it may appear simple, virasana challenges our body to sit in a position that is quite different than normal. Pay attention to your body and move into the posture slowly. Add in bolsters/bricks where needed.
Pushing the pose a little deeper: Reclining Hero
For those of us, like myself, who are in love with this pose, try to encourage the pose a bit further and move into the reclining posture. Reclining hero is a wonderful to distress and feel grounded.
In this pose, almost all of your body has contact to the floor, encouraging both your body and mind to feel grounded.
Reclining hero is a fairly intense stretch, recommended for both intermediate and advanced yoga students. However, your body is the best judge for whether it’s ready for this pose. Pay attention to how your body feels and only do what feels comfortable. Please note, if you are using support to get into hero pose, do not attempt to go into reclining hero. Supta Virasana is best explained through observation and guidance. For this pose, I have enclosed a video clip illustrating a safe way to move into this posture. If you are experiencing supta virasana for the first time, please move your body gentle. This pose is an excellent stretch for both your lower and upper body, but needs to done consciously. Be aware of how your body feels throughout the pose and use support when needed.
I hope that you enjoy these grounding poses as much as I do.