I sit in this pose for at least five minutes. I try to be alone and breathe consciously, expanding my ribcage, allowing my whole body to relax.
Of course, you can also do this in company - just sit in the pose and keep talking while you breathe consciously. A great way to practice mindfulness in daily life :-).
If the stretch in the quadriceps is too strong or the pressure is too much for the tops of the feet, you can do a few different things to adapt the pose:
- Sit on a pillow/folded blanket, placing it on top of your heels/lower legs.
- Place a block (or 2, or 6!) between your feet, so you raise your seat. Make sure the toes are pointing back and the soles of the feet are pointing up.
- Place a rolled up towel or blanket underneath your ankles.
Do be careful with your knees in this pose; if it's uncomfortable or if you have knee pain, come out of the pose. Bernie Clark wrote a really interesting article about how this pose can be also used to heal knee problems - read "Yin yoga for the knees by Bernie Clark".
Hero pose stretches the upper legs, and thus prepares the body for back bending. It's also great for neutralising the spine after or between backbends and is a great pose to take when you practise meditation or Pranayama.
Don't skip this pose in your practice because it looks easy .. when you practice Hero Pose try and stay in it for at least 5-10 breaths up to a few minutes.
Here are some step-by-step instructions on Hero Pose.