Virasana (Hero Pose)

Virasana (Hero Pose)


What is Virasana (Hero Pose)?

Virasana (Hero Pose)

Virasana or Hero Pose is a seated yoga asana, typically used as a warm-up or rest pose in everyday yoga practice. This pose will help yogis of all levels—relax, re-energize, and stretch the front thighs, ankles, and knees. 

Practitioners start by kneeling on the mat, feet turn out slightly, and spine straight. The glutes then rest between the calf muscles on the ground, and once seated comfortably in hero pose, practitioners can place their hands on the knees or bring them to the heart center in a prayer position.

Virasana is a resting meditation position that requires high flexibility in the ankles, knees, and hips. Thus, you should only perform this pose as far as you feel comfortable.

Virasana is named after the Sanskrit word 'Vira,' which means hero or warrior, and 'Asana,' which means posture. 

In Hindu mythology, Virabhadra was created by the god Shiva to avenge the death of his consort, Sati. It's said that when Sati died, Shiva was consumed by grief and rage, and he tore out a lock of his own hair, which transformed into the fierce warrior Virabhadra. 

Thus, Virasana is said to embody a warrior's strength, energy, power, and courage. 

Hero pose was first mentioned in an 8th-century text Patanjalayogashastravivarana and a 13th-century medieval text Vasishthasamhita as a seated meditation pose. 

Then in the 20th century, B.K.S Iyengar recommended the hero pose as a quadriceps lengthening exercise in his book Light on Yoga, making it a crucial kneeling posture in modern yoga. 

Sanskrit Name: वीरासन                         Pronunciation: veer-AHS-anna

Pose Type: Seated                               Also known as: Hero Pose

Strengthens: Feet, Ankles, Spine, Core, Groin, and Glutes

Stretches: Spine, Quadriceps, Knees, and Ankles 

Health Benefits of Virasana

  • Activates your Root Chakra. 

  • Improves digestion and gut health. 

  • Relieves symptoms of menopause. 

  • Strengthens and lengthens the spine. 

  • Improves blood circulation in the lower body.

  • Enhances flexibility in the ankles, knees, and thighs. 

  • Have therapeutic after-effects on blood pressure and asthma patients. 

When to Avoid Performing Virasana

  • Avoid during migraine. 

  • Avoid if you have a slipped disc.

  • Avoid if you have severe neck or back pain. 

  • Avoid if you have inflammatory knee arthritis.

  • Avoid if you recently got any injury or surgery. 

  • Avoid temporarily if you have swollen feet during the final trimester of pregnancy. 

How to do Virasana (Hero Pose)

To make Virasana practice less complicated, we have divided this practice into a few easy-to-follow parts—warm-up, posture cues, cool down, and much more. 

So, get your yoga mat ready as we get started with the hero pose practice.

Part 1 - Preparatory Poses for Virasana

Before getting started with your Virasana practice, activate your legs, core, and glutes with these below-listed warm-up poses:

1. Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation) - Practicing Surya Namaskar before Virasana can be an excellent way to prepare the whole body for this kneeling pose and help to improve your flexibility and strength.

Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation)

Start in Tadasana, following through a series of poses, including the Cobra Pose, Chaturanga Dandasana, Upward-Facing Dog Pose, Downward-Facing Dog Pose, Standing Forward Fold, etc. 

As you practice Surya Namaskar, focus on your breath and stay present in each pose. You can repeat the whole sequence 10 to 12 times. 

2. Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose) - Practicing Baddha Konasana before the hero pose can be an excellent way to prepare the body for the pose and help to improve your flexibility and stability in the glutes and flexibility in your thighs. 

Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose)

Start in a seated position with legs in front, bend your legs and join the soles together. Hold the feet with your palms and ensure the knees are close to the ground. You can use your hands to press your knees toward the floor.

Also, keep your chest lifted, and back straight as you open your hips. Hold this pose for 3 to 5 minutes for a complete spine and lower-body activation. 

Part 2: Step-by-Step Instructions to Perform Virasana

The following are steps to practice the Hero Pose: 

Step 1- Sit on the floor with your spine straight and legs stretched in the front. 

Step 2- Bend your knees back one by one, such that you must be sitting in between your calves. 

Step 3- Focus on extending your spine straight up, and close your eyes.

Step 4- Next, place your palms on your kneecaps and focus on deep breathing. 

Step 5- Hold this position for a minute and finally release by straightening your legs into the staff pose. 

Breath Awareness: 

  • Inhale - Inhale while bending the legs back into a kneeling hero pose stance. 

  • Exhale - Exhale as the spine is lengthened and the head is flexed upwards to the sky.  

  • Inhale & Exhale - While holding the hero pose for a prolonged duration. 

Performance Duration for Beginners: Hold the hero pose for 60 to 90 seconds. 

Performance Duration for Advanced: Hold the hero pose until it feels comfortable. 

Part 3: Things to Keep in Mind

Discover proper alignment tips for a safe Virasana practice with the following posture cues: 

  • Don’t rush: Rushing into a hero pose can lead to a lack of activation in the lower body and cause severe injuries during prolonged holds. 

Also, it’s essential to listen to your body—if you feel discomfort during virasana or you have any concerns regarding the proper execution of your pose, seek guidance from a qualified yoga instructor. 

  • Keep your back straight: Hunching over can cause more Make sure to keep your back straight, and your chest lifted as you sit back in Virasana. This will help to improve your posture and prevent strain on your lower back.

Part 4: Relaxing Poses After Virasana 

With these counter yoga poses, relax and re-establish blood circulation in your legs and hip muscles after a long Virasana practice: 

1. Adho Mukha Virasana (Downward Facing Hero Pose) - Start in the virasana position, slowly lower your torso and head down towards the floor, keeping your back straight and your chest lifted. 

Adho Mukha Virasana (Downward Facing Hero Pose)

Make sure to keep your hips grounded and your core and legs engaged as you lower down. Extend your arms overhead and stretch the upper back muscles for deep spinal relaxation. 

Hold the pose until your back muscles feel completely relaxed, and once you are ready to release the pose, slowly sit back up in Virasana. 

2. Paschimottanasana (Forward Fold Pose) - Paschimottanasana is an excellent pose to practice after Virasana as it can help to stretch and release tension in the back and leg muscles. Post the hero pose practice, unwind by extending your legs in front of you, keeping your back straight and your chest lifted.  

Paschimottanasana (Forward Fold Pose)

Inhale deep and as you exhale slowly, start to hinge at the hips and lower your torso down towards your legs, reaching for your toes or shins. You can hold onto your toes or shins with your hands. 

Keep your back straight during the prolonged stretch. Hold the pose for 2 to 5 minutes for deep lower back and hamstring relaxation. 

Virasana Modifications and Props

Make your hero pose practice easier—Check out the following props & modifications to smoothly master your practice.

  • Add a yoga block - If you feel pain in your heels or hips, this variation is perfect for helping support the hips and making the pose more accessible to practitioners who have difficulty sitting on their heels.

Add a yoga block

To come into the pose, start kneeling, place a yoga block between your heels and your buttocks, and slowly lower your hips onto the block. Keep your back straight, hands cupping the knees, and your chest lifted. 

  • Add a bolster pillow - Virasana with a bolster pillow is a variation for practitioners who feel discomfort in their shins and ankles. Kneel down and place a bolster pillow in between your thighs and calves. 

Add a bolster pillow

This will minimize the compression from your body weight onto your shins and ankles, making the Virasana holds less painful. 

Virasana Variations to Consider

Challenge your body and take your yoga practice to the next level with these different variations of Hero Pose

1. Parivrtta Virasana (Revolved Hero Pose) - This is an excellent pose to increase flexibility in your legs, shoulders, and spine by simply adding a twisting motion. 

Start by getting into the hero pose. From there, you will place your right hand on the floor behind you. Place your left palm on your right knee and slowly start to twist your spine, gazing over your right shoulder. 

Parivrtta Virasana (Revolved Hero Pose)

Keep the back straight and chest lifted as you twist. Hold this position for as long as it feels comfortable, gradually increasing the duration of the pose as you become more comfortable and your flexibility improves. 

When ready to release the pose, slowly untwist your spine and return to the hero pose. 

2. Supta Virasana (Reclined Hero Pose) - This is a restorative variation that involves reclining back on your forearms while seated in hero pose. It may seem easy, but it is a more advanced variation of virasana and may only be suitable for all practitioners.

Supta Virasana (Reclined Hero Pose)

From virasana, place your hands on the floor behind you, bringing your elbows to the outside of your knees. First, lean back onto your forearms, keeping your back straight, and lift the chest towards the sky. 

Gradually lie down entirely on the ground and rest your back and shoulder muscles. Relax by taking deep breaths, and shift the arms over the head to improve the flexibility in your spines, shoulders, knees as well as quadriceps. 

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Level-Up Poses After Virasana for Advanced Yogis

Move your seated asana practice up a notch and grow your lower-body range of motion with the following level-up positions.

Level-Up Pose 1 - Malasana (Garland Pose)

Level-Up Pose 2 - Gomukhasana (Cow Face Pose)

Level-Up Pose 3 - Surya Yantrasana (Compass Pose)

Level-Up Pose 4 - Krounchasana (Heron Pose)

Malasana (Garland Pose)

Malasana (Garland Pose)

Gomukhasana (Cow Face Pose)

Gomukhasana (Cow Face Pose)

Surya Yantrasana (Compass Pose)

Surya Yantrasana (Compass Pose)

Krounchasana (Heron Pose)

Krounchasana (Heron Pose)

Similar Seated Poses like Virasana

Discover a few more similar seated yoga poses like Virasana and increase your overall lower body flexibility. 

  1. Sukhasana (Easy Pose)

  2. Padmasana (Lotus Pose)

  3. Vajrasana (Thunderbolt Pose)

  4. Siddhasana (Accomplished Pose)

  5. Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose)

Frequently Asked Questions about Virasana (Hero Pose)

Can beginners perform Virasana?

What is Virasana good for?

What are the benefits of Virasana?

What are the different preparatory poses in Virasana?

What are the different variations in Virasana?

Who should avoid performing Virasana?

How long should you hold Virasana?

Which asana is recommended to be performed after Virasana?

Articles about Virasana (Hero Pose)
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