Caution: Supta Virasana, the reclining variation of Virasana, is an intermediate pose. DO NOT perform this pose unless you can sit your buttocks relatively easily on the floor between your feet.
supta = lying down, reclining
vira = man, hero, chief (compare Latin vir, man, the root of English words virile and virtue)
Step by Step
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.
|Contraindications and Cautions|
|If you have any serious back, knee, or ankle problems, avoid this pose unless you have the assistance of an experienced instructor.|
|Modifications and Props|
|If youre 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.|
|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.|
|Like its upright cousin, Supta Virasana is an excellent preparatory pose for many asanas, including Padmasana, Baddha Konasana, Bakasana, most standing poses, and any inversion and backbend.|
|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.|
|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.|
|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.|