Virasana (Hero pose): You Will Thank Me Later

modified Virasana with a blockIt won’t be today, but probably later you will thank me for introducing you to Virasana, also sometimes knows as Hero pose.  Virasana opens the hips, stretches the knees and tops of the feet and ankles, and opens the sacroilliac joint (SI joint–your tailbone). It’s one of those yoga poses that is a hum-dinger to do but, if you stick with it, you will notice more openness and flexibility in your hips. If you have bad knees, knee pain, or have had a knee replacement, this exercise may not be for you.

Before we begin, let’s gather some props. If you have a yoga block or bolster, blanket or even a couple of fat books, grab them. If you’re interested in buying yoga blocks, here is a link to Gaiam blocks on Amazon.

(In full disclosure, I am an Amazon Affiliate, so I make a commission if you follow any of my links and buy that specific item from Amazon. I picked the Amazon Affiliate program because almost everything I use came from them.) A prop might come in handy. Once we get our legs set up, we will place the prop as shown in the picture.

If you have knee pain, find a blanket you could use. In yoga, woven Mexican blankets are used often, however a similar blanket should work, too. Before sitting, you will place the blanket behind your knees. Take a moment to move the muscles of your calf out of the way before moving in to position. If you’re wanting to get a Mexican blanket, I found this beautiful one which appears to be on sale.

Modified Virasana/Thunderbolt pose

  1. If you find that your hips do not want to let your feet go wide enough for you to lower your hips between them, bring your heels in line with your knees. Your legs are parallel to each other. They can be right by each other or you can have some space between your legs.
  2. Angle your SITs bones so that your pelvis and lumbar spine (low back) are neutral.
  3. Lower your hips toward your heels.
  4. Find length from your tailbone through the top of your head.
  5. Broaden the collarbones.
  6. Make sure your head is active in line with your spine and that your chin is not sticking forward.
  7. I like to take my thumbs and massage my feet while I sit here. You should hold for at least 8 long, slow breaths, so it’s nice to give your body something lovely so that you can more easily stay in a positive place on your mat. That’s another way of saying that the massage helps you think positive yoga thoughts.

Virasana

  1. While on your hands and knees, bring your knees together and separate your feet so that they are wider than your hips. The goal here is that you will be able to have such open hips that you could sit on the floor with your feet on either side of your hips.
  2. Lift your hands off the floor and cross your hands at the wrists. Grab your thighs to help rotate your legs medially (toward the center of the body).
  3. Grab your prop if you think you might need it and rotate your pelvis so that your SITs bones are pointing out and there is a nice curve in your lumbar spine.
  4. Sit back on to your prop or the floor.
  5. Feel your SITs bones press down in to the floor or prop beneath them. As you feel that grounding, feel how the energy goes up through the crown of your head, giving you a nice long spine.
  6. Broaden the collarbones.
  7. Make sure your head is active in line with your spine and that your chin is not sticking forward.
  8. I like to take my thumbs and massage my feet while I sit here. You should hold for at least 8 long, slow breaths, so it’s nice to give your body something lovely so that you can more easily stay in a positive place on your mat. That’s another way of saying that the massage helps you think positive yoga thoughts.

Here is a video to show you more.

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So how’s that Virasana treating you? Comment below.

Sarah Stockett is STOTT certified in Matwork, Reformer, Cadillac, Chair, & Barrels, Injuries & Special Populations, and CORE; a Yoga Alliance RYT-200; and has studied Active Isolated Stretching. When she is not trying to discover the best exercises to get rid of pain, she likes watching movies and travelling with her family.

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