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

Proper Form, Variations, and Common Mistakes

How to Do Reclined Hero Pose - Supta Virasana
Reclined Hero Pose - Supta Virasana. John Freeman/Dorling Kindersley/Getty Images

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

Targets: Feet, ankle, knee, quadriceps, psoas (deep hip flexor), spine, abdominals

Level: Intermediate

Are you ready for a deep quad stretch? Hero Pose (Virasana) is one for sure. In fact, it's plenty intense enough for most people, especially those with tight thighs or who aren't used to doing much stretching. But if you feel like you've gotten all you can out of the seated version of this pose, it's time to start working with this reclined version.

Benefits

With Reclined Hero you get an intense stretch for the front of the body, including the thighs, foot, and abdominal muscles. Once you have mastered it, it is a very good restorative pose.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Begin by sitting in Hero Pose (virasana). In this position, your upper body is upright and your legs are bent back at the knees so the feet are on either side of your upper thighs.

  1. Bring your hands down to the floor on either side of your hips. Begin to walk your hands back toward your butt as you lean your torso back.
  2. Bend your elbows to come down onto your forearms. If you are sitting on a tall support, like a block, this is as far as you should go. If you are sitting on a folded blanket, make sure you have blankets of the same height in place to support your spine as you come down.
  3. If you feel comfortable on the 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, come out since these are not the areas that this pose is intended to stretch.
  5. Make sure that 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 the hands to bring yourself all the way up to sit.

Common Mistakes

As with Hero Pose, keeping tabs on your alignment is very important here for the health and safety of your knees. 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. Remember, there's no gold star for the people who can lie all the way back.

Modifications and Variations

Need a Modification?

The seated version of Virasana is intense enough for many beginners. As noted above, you must be careful about reclining if you are using a prop under your butt. The ideal prop in this situation would be a bolster. Sit with your butt on the end of the bolster and your feet on either side. 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.

Safety and Precautions

You should avoid Reclined Hero if you have back, knee, or ankle problems or are pregnant. If you feel any pain, come out of the pose.

Getting a foot cramp is a common problem during Viransana. If this happens, try curling your toes and tucking them under your foot. Massage the arch of your foot.

Try It Out

Incorporate this move and similar ones into one of these popular workouts:

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