Hero Pose

Virasana is a balm for tired legs at the end of the day, as well as an alternative to Lotus for seated meditation.

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vira = man, hero, chief

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Hero Pose basics


  • Stretches the thighs, knees, and ankles
  • Strengthens the arches
  • Improves digestion and relieves gas
  • Helps relieve the symptoms of menopause
  • Reduces swelling of the legs during pregnancy (through second trimester)
  • Therapeutic for high blood pressure and asthma
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How to

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  1. Kneel on the floor (use a folded blanket or bolster to wedge between your calves and thighs if necessary), with your thighs perpendicular to the floor, and touch your inner knees together. Slide your feet apart, slightly wider than your hips, with the tops of the feet flat on the floor. Angle your big toes slightly in toward each other and press the top of each foot evenly on the floor.
  2. Exhale and sit back halfway, with your torso leaning slightly forward. Wedge your thumbs into the backs of your knees and draw the skin and flesh of the calf muscles toward the heels. Then sit down between your feet.
  3. If your buttocks don’t comfortably rest on the floor, raise them on a block or thick book placed between the feet. Make sure both sitting bones are evenly supported. Allow a thumb’s-width space between the inner heels and the outer hips. Turn your thighs inward and press the heads of the thigh bones into the floor with the bases of your palms. Then lay your hands in your lap, one on the other, palms up, or on your thighs, palms down.
  4. Firm your shoulder blades against the back ribs and lift the top of your sternum like a proud warrior. Widen the collarbones and release the shoulder blades away from the ears. Lengthen the tailbone into the floor to anchor the back torso.
  5. At first stay in this pose from 30 seconds to 1 minute. Gradually extend your stay up to 5 minutes. To come out, press your hands against the floor and lift your buttocks up, slightly higher than the heels. Cross your ankles underneath your buttocks, sit back over the feet and onto the floor, then stretch your legs out in front of you. It may feel good to bounce your knees up and down a few times on the floor.
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Beginner tips

Often the inner top feet press more heavily into the floor than the outer top feet. Press the bases of your palms along the outer edges of the feet and gently push the pinky-toe sides of the feet to the floor.

Deepen the Pose

Cup your hands around the knees, straighten the arms fully, and pull on the knees. Firm your shoulder blades against your back, lift the top sternum, and release your chin down onto the chest without straining the back of your neck. Hold for 10 to 20 seconds. Then let go of the knees and raise your head back to neutral without losing the lift of the sternum.

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Teacher tips

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Photo: Andrew Clark.

Hero Pose sitting on a block

If the pose causes too much stress on your knees, calves, or ankles, try practicing sitting on a block. Tuck in the prop between your feet and align it so that you can sit both hip points on it.  You can stack more blocks or blankets until you are at a height that allows you to sit comfortably in the pose.

Photo: Andrew Clark. Clothing: Calia

Hero Pose sitting on a chair

Hero pose can be accessible to people who can’t sit on the floor.  Sit up straight on a sturdy chair and lift the crown of your head toward the ceiling. Reach toward the back legs of the chair, which encourages your shoulders to move back and down away from your ears.  Place your feet flat on the floor, hip width apart, or walk your feet back under the chair to mimic the position of your legs in the kneeling version of the pose.

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Why we love this pose

We love a pose that looks easy but gives us a physical and mental challenge. On the surface, Hero Pose looks like a simple matter of coming to sit on your knees. But the position requires a specific, careful alignment of your knees and feet. You may have to adjust the pose depending on the anatomy of your calves, ankles, and quadriceps. Maintaining the pose also requires you to sit with yourself and cultivate an inner and outer stillness.

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Preparatory and counter poses

Preparatory Poses

Follow-up Poses