Virasana / Hero Pose

This kneeling seated pose stretches the front of the thighs and opens the ankle joints.  As it reduces blood supply to the legs, it quiets the sensations of the body, so some find it useful for meditation

Contraindications (cautions): Headache: Practice this pose lying back on a bolster. Knee or ankle injury: Avoid this pose unless you have the assistance of an experienced instructor.

Step by Step

1.  Kneel on the floor (on a folded blanket to pad your knees, shins, and feet if necessary), feet wide apart and knees as close together as possible.  As you sit down between the feet, you may like to use your hands to roll the calf flesh externally so that the lower leg can snuggle more closely against the outer thigh.

2.  Have the tops of the feet on the floor.  Your toes need to point backward in this pose, never out to the sides, which would place the inner knees at risk.  Have the thighbones parallel.  Separate the big toe from the second toe, continue down, spreading all of the toes apart and widening the soles of the feet.

3.  Let your sitting bones come easily to the floor.  If your buttocks don’t comfortably rest on the floor, raise them on a block or thick book placed between the feet.  Make sure both sitting bones are evenly supported.  Sit tall and draw the lower abdomen in toward the spine to get the sensation of the spine lengthening upward.  Rest the backs of the hands on top of the knees (above picture shows hands at soles of the feet).  Gaze softly ahead or, with the eyes closed, focus on the space between the eyebrows.  Stay here for as long as you enjoy deepening into your own being.

4.  Once you wish to release from the pose, inhale and raise the hands above the head.  With the arms stretching fully away, interlace the fingers and extend the palms toward the ceiling.  When you release the arms, allow the palms to rest lightly on the heels of the feet and fold the upper body forward, perhaps bringing the forehead to rest on the floor.  Then kneel up onto all fours.

5.  Counterpose:  Supta Baddha Konasana/Reclining Bound Angle pose or Janu Sirsasana/Head Beyond the Knee Pose.