How to Do Reclined Hero Pose (Supta Virasana) in Yoga

Proper Form, Variations, and Common Mistakes

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

Also Known As: Reclining Hero Pose, Saddle Pose, Fixed-Firm Pose

Targets: Feet, ankles, knees, quadriceps, psoas (deep hip flexor), spine, abdominals

Level: Intermediate

Hero Pose (Virasana) is intense enough for most people, especially those who aren't used to doing much stretching or have tight thighs. But if you feel like you've gotten all you can out of the seated pose, this reclined version offers a deeper quad stretch


Reclined Hero Pose provides an intense stretch for the front of your body, including your thighs, feet, and abdominal muscles. Research confirms that this pose is helpful for easing muscle tension, but also that it benefits the nervous system via improving blood circulation.

Reclined Hero Pose is a good restorative yoga pose. This means that it can help relax and open your body. If you have chronic low back pain, engaging in restorative yoga may even reduce that pain without the use of medications.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Begin Reclined Hero Pose by sitting in Hero Pose or Virasana. In this position, your upper body is upright and your legs are bent back at the knees so your feet are on either side of your upper thighs. Take these steps next:

  1. Bring your hands down to the floor on either side of your thighs. Walk your hands back toward your butt as you lean your torso back.
  2. Bend at your elbows to come down onto your forearms. If you are sitting on a tall support, like a yoga block, this is as far as you should go. If you are sitting on a folded blanket, have blankets of the same height in place to support your spine as you come down.
  3. If you feel comfortable on your forearms, you can try continuing to release your back toward (and eventually reaching) the floor. 
  4. If you feel pain in your knees or low back, it may be a signal that you've gone too far for your body. Return to your forearms instead of lowering your torso to the ground.
  5. Make sure your knees stay close together. Don't let them separate. 
  6. Stay in a reclined position for five to 10 breaths.
  7. To come out, raise yourself onto your forearms first. Then press into your hands to return yourself to a sitting position.

Common Mistakes

As with Hero Pose, keeping aligned is very important. As you lean back, the knees have a tendency to want to separate. Monitor this and make sure they stay together, even if it means your back doesn't make it all the way down to the floor.

Modifications and Variations

Need a Modification?

As noted above, you must be careful about reclining if you are using a prop under your butt. The ideal yoga equipment in this situation would be a bolster. That way, when you lie back, the bolster supports the whole length of your spine.

Up for a Challenge?

You can intensify the pose by extending your arms on the floor above your head. You may also want to work up to longer hold times. Both of these can make the Reclined Hero Pose more challenging.

Safety and Precautions

You should avoid Reclined Hero if you have back, knee, or ankle problems. And if you feel any pain whatsoever, come out of the pose. Using bolsters is also recommended if you are pregnant, putting less stress on your growing belly.

Getting a foot cramp is a common problem during Virasana, as well as in yoga in general. If your foot begins to cramp, try curling your toes and tucking them under your foot. Massaging the arch of your foot can also ease the tension as well.

Try It Out

Incorporate this move (and similar poses) into one of these popular workouts:

2 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Slathia D. Effects of yogic practices on different organs of an athlete. Indian J Res. 2014;3(1):216-18. doi:

  2. Highland K, Schoomaker A, Rojas W, et al. Benefits of the restorative exercise and strength training for operational resilience and excellence yoga program for chronic low back pain in service members: a pilot randomized controlled trial. Arch Phys Med Rehab. 2018;99(1):91-98. doi:10.1016/j.apmr.2017.08.473

By Ann Pizer, RYT
Ann Pizer is a writer and registered yoga instructor who teaches vinyasa/flow and prenatal yoga classes.