Step by step
To come into Hero pose or Virasana, begin in an all fours position on your hands and knees. Bring your knees closer together and separate your feet slightly wider than hip distance apart Press the top of your feet down and slowly lower your hips back until eventually sitting on the mat (or props) between the heels Use your hands to roll the flesh of your calves away, draw your navel in and up, ground through your sitting bones and extend through the crown of your head Stay for 5 to 10 breaths Come out of the pose the way you came in, by placing the hands in front of you and lifting the hips back up to all fours
Use as many props as you need to raise the hips up, and avoid any discomfort in the knees. Stacking cushions or blocks between your feet is a great option You can practise the pose one leg at a time with one leg folded under and the other straight out in front of you before coming into the full pose Gradually build up the length of time you stay in the pose. If your ankles are stiff, place a rolled up blanket underneath to decrease the stretch Keep pressing firmly through the tops of the feet and firm the inner ankles in
Stretches ankles, tops of the feet, knees, and legs. Energises the legs when they are tired. A great alternative to Lotus pose for meditation.
Watch out for
An alternative version is to have your knees and feet together and then to sit on your heels rather than in between them In some cases, Virasana can be used therapeutically to treat knee pain, as described in Bernie Clark’s article Yin Yoga for the knees and Esther Ekhart’s class for members Virasana – Hero pose heals
If you feel any discomfort in your knees, adjust the pose accordingly by elevating your hips by placing a block or cushion between the heels to sit on. Avoid in case of ankle or knee injuries. If your quads (front of thigh muscles) are very tight, come into the pose slowly and keep the hips higher by sitting on props such as yoga blocks or cushions. You should feel the stretch in the belly of the muscle rather than at the attachment points at the knees.