Master Hero Pose (Virasana) in 5 Steps

NEXT STEP IN YOGAPEDIA 3 Ways to Modify Hero Pos
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vira = hero · asana = pose

Benefits

Increases flexibility in the knees and hips; tones the muscles in the arches of the feet; increases circulation in the feet and legs

Instruction

  1. Kneel on your mat with your knees together and thighs perpendicular to the floor. Separate your feet slightly wider than hip width (if this is painful on the tops of your feet or your knees, kneel on a thin blanket). Point your toes straight back and spread the balls of your feet from the big-toe side to the little-toe side. Ideally, all of your toenails will touch the floor.
  2. Bend your knees a bit, lean forward, and place your hands on your calves. Pull your calf muscles back away from your knees and roll them out. Lower your buttocks and sit on the floor. The inner sides of your calves should touch your outer thighs.
  3. Place your hands on your knees, catch the skin on your knees, and draw it up toward your thighs—this will give your knees a more spacious feeling. Sit in this posture for 1–5 minutes.
  4. Extend your arms straight in front of you. Bring your palms together and interlock your fingers. Now, turn your palms forward (away from you), inhale, and raise your arms overhead. Use this extension along your arms to lengthen your sides upward. Press your shins and knees down and descend your inner groins. Hold for 30–60 seconds. Lower your arms, change the interlacing of your fingers, and repeat.
  5. To come out of the pose, lower your arms, place your hands on the floor, and lift your buttocks. Raise one knee at a time, sliding each foot forward to straighten your leg.

See also You Don’t Have to Play Martyr in Hero Pose

don't hero pose
Don’t hover or tolerate knee pain. If you are unable to sit all the way down, sit on a block or blanket.

don't hero pose
Don’t allow your feet to sickle in or splay out, to avoid injuring your knees.

About Our Pro
Teacher and model John Schumacher is the founder and director of Unity Woods Yoga Center, serving the Washington, DC, area since 1979. He studied with B.K.S. Iyengar for 33 years and was certified by him as an Advanced Teacher. In his 43 years of teaching, Schumacher has taught teachers and students worldwide. His clear, precise teaching style and engaging sense of humor challenge and inspire students to move beyond their imagined limits.