Hero Pose (Virasana): How to Do (Steps) and Benefits

hero pose or virasana
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Sanskrit Pronunciationveer-AHS-anna, Virasana (वीरासन)
Meaningvira – hero/warrior
Asana – Pose
Pose TypeSeated and relaxing posture
Pose LevelBeginner, hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute
Beneficial InStretches and strengthen quadriceps, ankle
Known asHero pose, Saddle Pose

Virasana is kneeling pose in which you might have seen your yoga teacher sitting quietly after class ends! Yes, this heroic-looking yoga asana is actually a wonderful meditative posture too.

By making a space for sitting bones in between our feet, in hero pose, the spine gets a perfect elongation which makes this pose good for breath (or Prana) flow. This is why in Bikram yoga we practice kapalbhati Pranayama in Virasana.

Table of Contents

  1. Virasana or Hero Pose: Meaning
  2. How to Do Hero Pose
  3. Hero Pose Information
  4. Benefits of Hero Pose
  5. Contraindications & cautions

Virasana or Hero Pose, What this Name Denotes?

Vira is said to a person who is ‘brave’ or ‘got victory over something’. This Sanskrit term has derived from “Virya“, which in the physical body is the symbol of energy or strength.

Usually, a hero is known for his action but his heroism looks more fantastic at the end when he conquered what he has to. This same analogy goes to Lord Hanuman who after the great war is seen in a kneeling position before Lord Rama and so also known as “Vir Hanuman” (powerful yet humble).

Sitting in the Virasana is a symbolism of conquering thoughts, desires, and internal turmoil that make us the hero of ourselves. Yes, if we sit properly in this posture, concentrating mind becomes much easier and so for a while, we can feel the hero of within self.

How to Do Hero Pose: Step-by-step Instructions

To come into Hero Pose, fold your mat into half (or simply can be done on the plane floor also) and follow the step-by-step instructions given below:

Step 1

Come in a kneeling position and adjust your folded mat below the knee joint to support it. Check your thighs & upper body perpendicular to the lower legs & floor.

Bring your knees together to fill any gap in between and spread feet out side by side. Basically, the lower legs will come in ‘downward V’ (∧) shape where the tip of ‘∧’ denotes the direction of both knees and two sides of it show feet stretching out. The gap or distance between feet should be slightly more than hip-width.

Gently press the top of your foot to the floor and point your big toes back & away from each other.

Step 2

Now slightly bend your torso forward and wedge your thumb into calves. Slowly start coming down with your hips, simultaneously draw your calves muscles to the heels to make more space in your knees to sit down on the floor.

Once you reach completely down, check if your buttocks resting on the floor and hips touching the inner heels.

Step 3

Rollback your shoulder, open your chest, and sit up tall like a hero. Don’t let your knees fall apart. Maintain this position.

Place your hands in Dhyan mudra over the lap or simply, place hands on thighs palms down. However, the position of hands in Dhyan mudra is preferred for meditation.

Step 4

Hold the pose for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Slowly come out of the pose. First lean forward from your torso then take your feet off the ground. Then pull your ankles in front of you and slowly straighten both legs in front of you.

Modifications

  • If your buttocks aren’t reaching down – Put a block or thick folded towel to raise the level below buttocks and sit over it. Make sure your sit bones are evenly distributed over the block or raised surface.
  • If your knees joint are hurting – It happens because of tight biceps femoris muscles. To ease pose in this case, place a thin, tightly rolled blanket back of your knees and then sit over the block placed below buttocks.
  • If your ankles are overstretching – Again, in this case, you can place a rolled yoga blanket under front of your ankles in such manner that only your toes will lightly press down into the mat.

Variations

Some popular variations of Hero pose are as follows:

  1. Reclined Hero Pose – While sitting in hero pose, walk your hands back, bend your elbows to come down onto your forearms and slowly lean your torso on the floor.
  2. Side twist Hero Pose – From hero pose, twist your torso towards your either side with your palms resting on the floor. Chest wide open and gaze at the shoulder of your back arm.
  3. Cow face Hero Pose – While sitting in hero pose, take your left arm behind your back, raise your right arm and take it back. Finally clasp the fingers of both the palms as we do in cow face pose.
  4. Downward facing Hero Pose – While in hero pose, begin to stretch your hands in front of your torso. Slowly bend forward and touch your forehead to the floor. Keep your palms open like in the downward-facing dog pose.

Preparatory Poses of Virasana

  • Baddha Konasana ( Bound Angle Pose)
  • Balasana (Child Pose)

Follow-Up Poses of Virasana

Hero Pose Information

Virasana is one of the oldest and traditional seated yoga asana for pranayama and dhyana. It’s described in the following yogic texts:

  1. In Vyasa’s commentary on The Yoga Sutra of Patanjali.
  2. In “Light On Yoga” by B.K.S Iyengar.
  3. This kneeling posture is also mentioned in the Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga texts.

It is a beginner level seated asana, which is basically a resting pose recommended especially after standing yoga postures.

Although, mantra or Japa is preferred to be done in Padmasana or Siddhasana. However, one can choose Virasana or Vajrasana if they are unable to sit in these asanas for extended periods. Besides the Vajrasana, it is the only yoga postures that can be done after a meal, as it stimulates the digestive system.

Virasana vs. Vajrasana (Hero Pose vs. Thunderbolt Pose)

Virasana seems similar to the Vajrasana but the position of the feet varies in both the asanas.

  • In the Virasana, feet alongside the hips and sitting bones on the floor
  • While in vajrasana, the feet are together and sitting bones rest on the heels

Benefits of Hero Pose (Virasana)

  • Stretches the pelvis, quadriceps, knees, and ankles.
  • Open the hip extensors and sacrum.
  • Enhance the function of the cardiovascular and respiratory system.
  • Activates the Muladhara or root chakra which makes you feel grounded.
  • Helpful for athletes to practice this asana after running as it cools down the feet.
  • Cures constipation, piles, flatulence and indigestion.
  • Relieve the flat feet by stretching the ankle and knee.
  • Improves the posture of the spine by the upright spinal alignment.
  • Relieve the symptoms of menopause.
  • Reduce the swelling of legs in pregnancy.
  • Keeps the knee joint healthy and mobile.
  • Balance the Vata dosha and eventually calms the mind.
  • Therapeutic for high blood pressure and asthma.

Contraindications & Cautions

  • Any existing ankle or knee injury needs to look after.
  • Avoid this pose if you have a heart issue, severe arthritis, or headache.
  • Proceed with caution in case of joints or back pain

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