Virasana, also known as Hero Pose, relieves tension in tired legs. It is also the best pose for readjusting the ligaments in your knees and ankles. Before you learn Lotus Pose for seated meditation, perfect Hero Pose first to prepare your knees.
(Pronounced as "VEER-AHS-anna")
The Sanskrit word vira means "warrior, hero or champion." Here you practice sitting like one ready to conquer their own weaknesses.
Kneel down on your yoga mat. You can fold your yoga mat in half for more cushioning under your knee joints while kneeling. Bring your knees together, but do not sit down yet. First you must spread your feet out to the sides so that you form a 45-degree angle between your right calf and your right thigh. Now do the same with your left leg. On each side, your toes, ankles and knees should remain in a slight diagonal line.
Now place your hands on your calves and roll the skin back away from the knee joints and out to the sides, making more space in the knees for you to bend and sit down on the mat between your feet. The weight of your buttocks should be on the floor, not on your feet.
Sit up straight. Keep your thighs turned in and your knees near each other. Do not let your ankles tilt at all. The backs of your heels should point straight up to the ceiling. Let your hands rest on your knees and relax your shoulders down. Allow your tailbone to extend down closer to the mat.
As a beginner, hold the pose for 30 seconds and gradually increase the duration to one minute or longer over time. To protect your knees as you come out, lean your weight forward to lift your feet off the floor behind you. Then cross your ankles behind you and gently sit back, rolling your buttocks over your crossed ankles. Then pull your ankles in front of you and slowly straighten both legs in front of you.
If you have stiff knees and ankles that make this pose painful, then spread some folded yoga blankets on the floor and kneel on top of them to do Virasana. Sit your buttocks on a yoga block or bolster so that the added height takes pressure off of your knees. For the ankles, place a rolled up yoga blanket underneath the front of your ankles so that only your toes will lightly press down into the mat.
Once you have more experience getting comfortable in Virasana, then press the palms of your hands into the soles of your feet. Now tilt your head back and look up, lifting your sternum. On an exhalation, bend forward with your chest leading the movement until your head comes down last to touch the floor.
Ask a partner to help you lengthen your spine for better back alignment in this pose. After you are comfortably sitting in Virasana, stretch both arms straight up in the air, fingers pointed up to the ceiling. Have your partner stand behind you. They can grab your hands or wrists and help gently pull them up, helping you sit up straighter. Then they can press their knee in between your shoulder blades to help you lift your chest.
While sitting in the pose, try the following variation to lengthen your spine more while opening your shoulders. Interlock your fingers and stretch your arms out straight in front of you. Now rotate your thumbs down so that your palms face away from you. Then raise your arms as you breathe in until your palms face the ceiling, extending your arms all the way up from your lower back.
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