Reclining Hero Stretch Pose - Supta Virasana

Supta Virasana
(Reclining Hero Pose)

(soup-tah veer-AHS-anna) 
supta = lying down, reclining
vira = man, hero, chief (compare Latin vir, “man,” the root of English words virile and virtue)

This yoga pose energizes the body and stimulates the mind. Providing a massage to the heart, blood flow increases to fight arterial blockages, corrects prolapsed uterus, and reduces inflammation. Hero Yoga Pose Reclining is an exercise of will and relaxation.

 


Benefits


Stretches the abdomen, thighs and deep hip flexors (psoas), knees, and ankles 

Strengthens the arches 

Relieves tired legs 

Improves digestion 

Helps relieves the symptoms of menstrual pain 

Contraindications/Cautions


If you have any serious back, knee, or ankle problems, avoid this pose unless you have the assistance of an experienced instructor. 

Performing the Asana


Perform Virasana. Exhale and lower your back torso toward the floor. First lean onto your hands, then your forearms and elbows. Once you are on your elbows, place your hands on the back of the pelvis and release your lower back and upper buttocks by spreading the flesh down toward the tailbone. Then finish reclining, either onto the floor or a support. 

If your front ribs jut up sharply toward the ceiling, it’s a sign of tight groins, which pulls your front pelvis toward your knees and causes your belly and lower back to tense. Use your hands to press your front ribs down slightly and lift your pubis toward your navel. This should lengthen your lower back and lower it toward the floor. If it doesn’t, raise yourself onto a higher support. Then lay your arms and hands on the floor, angled about 45 degrees from the sides of your torso, palms up. 

Sink the heads of the thighbones deep into the back of the hip sockets. It’s alright to lift your knees a little away from the floor to help soften your groins; in fact, you can raise your knees a few inches on a thickly folded blanket. You can also allow a little bit of space between your knees as long as your thighs remain parallel to each other. Do not, however, allow the knees to splay apart wider than your hips – this will cause strain on the hips and lower back. 

To begin, stay in this pose for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Gradually extend your stay to 5 minutes. To come out, press your forearms against the floor and come onto your hands. Then use your hands to lift your torso into Virasana. As you come up, lead with your sternum, not your head or chin. Come out of Virasana in the recommended manner. 

Anatomical Focus


Thighs and groins 

Knees 

Ankles 

Arches 

Abdomen 

Shoulders 

Therapeutic Applications


Arthritis 

Asthma 

Diarrhea 

Digestive problems 

Flat feet 

Head cold 

Headache 

High blood pressure 

Infertility 

Insomnia 

Intestinal gas and acidity 

Menstrual discomfort 

Respiratory ailments 

Sciatica 

Varicose veins 

Modify Your Practice


If you’re not able to recline fully on the floor, set a bolster or one or more folded blankets behind yourself to fully support your spine and head. Use as much height as you need to make the position reasonably comfortable. 

To help release the groins, lay some weight across the creases of the top thighs where they join the front pelvis. Start with a 10-pound sandbag and gradually over time increase the weight to 30 pounds or so. 

Variations


Before doing Supta Virasana you can start with its halfway variation, Supta Ardha Virasana (are-dah = half). To sit in Ardha Virasana, draw just your right leg back into Virasana. You can keep your left knee bent with the foot on the floor, or straighten your left leg by pushing out through the heel. Then recline as described above, either onto a support or the floor, following all the cautions. Come out as recommended for Virasana, then repeat with the left leg back. 

Complimentary Poses


Baddha Konasana - Bound Angle Posture 
Balasana - Child's Pose 
Bhujangasana - Cobra Pose 
Gomukhasana - Cow Face Posture
Virasana - Hero Pose 

Tips for Beginners


If your thighs insist on sliding apart in this pose, you might try one of two short-term solutions: bind your thighs together with a strap positioned around the mid-thighs; or squeeze a 2- to 3-inch thick book between your thighs. In either case be sure to draw your inner groins sharply up into your pelvis. 

Deepen the Pose


You can also involve the arms in this pose. Inhale and raise your arms toward the ceiling, parallel to each other and perpendicular to the floor. Rock back and forth a few times, further broadening the shoulder blades across your back, then stretch your arms overhead, on the floor, palms up toward the ceiling. Rotate your arms outward, so the outer armpits roll toward the ceiling, and pull your shoulder blades down the back toward your tailbone. 

Partnering Practice


A partner can help you get a feel for the proper movement of the top thighs in this pose. Have her stand at your knees, bend forward, and place her hands on your top thighs, which can be padded with a folded sticky mat. She should then press lightly down on your thighs and turn them inward, rolling the inner thighs toward the floor. Tell your partner if you want more or less pressure on your thighs.