Step by step
- Start in Virasana / Hero Pose sitting on, or in-between, your heels.
- Bring your hands behind you to the mat.
- Press the tops of the feet to the mat and firm the inner ankles in.
- Bend your elbows and slowly lean your body back as you exhale, lowering onto your forearms and then your upper back, if that still feels ok for your knees and lower back.
- You should feel a stretch in the midpoint of your thigh muscle (quadriceps) rather than the attachment points of the muscle at your knees.
- If your back is on the mat you can bring your arms alongside the ears, out to the sides or place your hands on your belly.
- Stay here for 10 breaths.
- Try to come out of the pose the way you came into it – mindfully. Engage your abdominal muscles as you inhale, pushing your hands or elbows to the mat to lift back up to Virasana.
- Start slowly by just leaning back onto your hands. This can be enough to feel the stretch in the tops of the thighs.
- If you feel too much stretch in your quadriceps by leaning back on your hands, you could also try placing the palms of your hands on some (steady) blocks.
- Use your exhalation to help you soften more into the pose, walking the hands back further or coming onto the forearms.
- If you get stuck coming out of the pose roll onto one side and extend your legs out.
- Stretches the feet, ankles, thighs and front of the body.
- Gently massages and stimulates the lower back.
- The full pose with the arms overhead opens up the chest and the shoulders.
Watch out for
- I Avoid this pose if you have knee or ankle injuries or any issues with your lower back.
- You may feel a gentle compression in the lower back but if you feel pain or pinching come out of the pose.
- This is a great restorative pose – lie back onto a bolster or stack of cushions, use as many as you need to be able to release muscular effort.
- Try a single leg version of Supta Virasana by keeping one foot planted on the floor (knee pointing up) this can be helpful if you find you feel the pose more in your back than your thigh.
- In Supta Virasana the tailbone is tucked slightly so that the lower back is long. When practising the Yin yoga version of this pose – Saddle Pose – the tailbone is not tucked and the lower back is arched. Knees can be together or apart. Hold Saddle Pose for 1 – 5 minutes.
- Read more in Saddle Pose variations.