Supta Virasana (Reclining Hero Pose)
Supta Virasana (Reclining Hero Pose) is an advanced Yoga pose that stretches your hip flexors (psoas) and quadriceps muscles, helps open up the hips and ribcage and contributes to a more healthy back. Most people tend to have tight hip flexors or psoas muscles as a result of sitting at a desk for a too long. The outcome of this is poor posture, as a result of your pelvis getting pulled forward and down.
This, eventually, leads to what they call a “sway back” with an arched lumbar spine and the attendant back problems. Reclining Hero Pose is one of the rare Yoga poses that is safe to do even after meals, because it has a remarkable effect on your digestion. For some people, Supta Virasana even becomes a resting pose, rather than just a stretching pose, although it takes quite a bit of practice to reach that stage.
How to do Supta Virasana
1. To begin, sit in Virasana (Hero Pose) buttocks on the mat, between your feet. With an exhalation, lean on your hands, then on your forearms and elbows and, finally, slowly lower your back to the mat. Keep gazing at the ceiling.
2. If your groins are tight, they will pull your front pelvis toward your knees and make your ribs jut sharply up toward the ceiling, causing your lower back and belly to become tense. So, press your front ribs slightly down with your hands and raise your pubis toward your navel. This will stretch your lower back and help drop it to the mat. If it does not, hoist yourself onto a higher support with the help of a folded Yoga blanket. Then place your hands and arms on the mat, angled around 45° from the sides of your body, palms facing upward.
3. You can lift your knees slightly away from the mat. This will help soften your groins. In fact, you can even use a thickly folded Yoga blanket to raise your knees a couple inches off the mat. Also, feel free to allow a little space between your knees, so long as your thighs are parallel to each other; but, don’t let your knees splay apart any wider than your hips. This will put undue strain on your lower back and hips.
4. In the beginning, hold the pose for 30 – 60 seconds. Slowly, extend up to 5 minutes. To exit the pose, press your forearms into the mat and rise up on your hands. Then lift your torso up into Virasana, with the help of your hands. Lead with your sternum, as you rise up, not with your chin or head. Then, exit Virasana in the recommended manner.
Benefits of Supta Virasana
- Stretches and strengthens the abdomen, thighs and deep hip flexors (psoas), ankles, knees, and arches
- Gives relief to tired legs
- Helps improve digestion
- Relieves symptoms of menstrual pain
Supta Virasana Contraindications
- In case of serious knee, ankle or back problems, don’t do this pose without the assistance of an experienced Yoga instructor.