Instructor: Sarah N.
Sarah has completed an intensive yoga teacher training program in Pune, India at the BKS Iyengar Yoga Institute. She has been inspired to continue practicing and teaching yoga for life.

Hero Pose: Step-by-Step Instructions


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.

Step by Step Pose Information Benefits Variations Partnering

Virasana

(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.

How to do Hero Pose

Step One

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.

Step Two

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.

Step Three

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.

Step Four

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.

Beginner's Tip:

To get the full benefit of this stretch for your feet, make sure that the tops of all of your toes press into the floor instead of putting more pressure onto the big toes. Use your hands to press down the pinky-toe sides of your feet into your yoga mat. If your feet begin to cramp, you can release tension by pressing down at the tops of the arches near your big toes, right below the balls of your feet.

Pose Information

Sanskrit Name:

Virasana

Pose Level:

Level 1

Contraindications and Cautions:

  1. For heart problems: Do not perform the variations of this pose that include raising your arms.
  2. For recent knee or ankle injuries: Do not practice this posture without the help of an experienced yoga instructor.
  3. Avoid this pose if you have diarrhea.

Modifications and Props:

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.

Deepen the Pose:

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.

Benefits

  • Helps to relieve gout
  • Reduces stiffness in the shoulders, neck, hips, thighs, knees and ankles
  • Helps improve flat feet
  • Relieves lower back aches
  • Aids in repositioning herniated discs
  • Promotes better circulation to the feet
  • Assists in healing calcaneal spurs
  • Minimizes leg swelling during pregnancy

Partnering

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.

Variations

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.

Next Pose:

Peacock Pose

9 styles | 152 poses

Beginner Yoga Poses

Bharadvaja's Twist Pose
Big Toe Pose
Boat Pose
Bound Angle Pose
Bow Pose
Bridge Pose
Camel Pose
Cat Pose
Chair Pose
Child's Pose
Cobra Pose
Corpse Pose
Cow Pose
Cow Face Pose
Crow Pose
Dolphin Plank Pose
Downward Dog Pose
Eagle Pose
Eight Angle Pose
Extended Hand to Big Toe Pose
Extended Puppy Pose
Extended Side Angle Pose
Firefly Pose
Fish Pose
Garland Pose
Half Frog Pose
Half Lord of the Fishes Pose
Half Moon Pose
Yoga Handstand
Happy Baby Pose
Head To Knee Pose
High Lunge Pose
Legs Up The Wall Pose
Locust Pose
Lotus Pose
Shoulder Pressing Pose
Low Lunge Pose
Monkey Pose
Mountain Pose
Noose Pose
Plank Pose
Plow Pose
Sage Koundinya I Pose
Sage Marichi's Pose
Reclining Bound Angle Pose
Reclining Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose
Revolved Triangle Pose
Revolved Head to Knee Pose
Reclining Hero Pose
Scale Pose
Side Reclining Leg Lift Pose
Peacock Pose
Pyramid Pose
Crescent Lunge Pose
Heron Pose
Hero Pose
Feathered Peacock Pose
Staff Pose
Seated Forward Bend Pose
Four Limbed Staff Pose
Revolved Side Angle Pose
Wild Thing Pose
Side Crow Pose
Side Plank Pose
Sphinx Pose
Supported Headstand (Sirsasana)
Tree Pose
Standing Split
Supported Shoulderstand
Standing Half Forward Bend
Triangle Pose
Upward Plank Pose
Upward Facing Two Foot Staff Pose
Wheel Pose
Upward Salute Pose
Upward Facing Dog Pose
Warrior I Pose
Warrior II Pose
Warrior III Pose
Wide-Angle Seated Forward Bend
Easy Pose
Gate Pose
Wide Legged Forward Fold
Dancer Pose
One-Legged King Pigeon Pose
One-Legged King Pigeon Pose II
Marichi's Pose
Fire Log Pose
Standing Forward Bend
Pose Dedicated to the Sage Koundinya II

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