Holy wow - I cannot believe January is almost over! We've come to the last day of poses (asanas) featuring the legs so after focusing on poses (asanas) that work your hammies and quads pretty hard, it's only appropriate that we end with one that offers up a fantastic stretch for your thighs, knees, and ankles. Hero Pose, or Virasana, is another pose that you'll likely either love it or hate it. For some people, this pose is heaven on earth and they could (and have) fallen asleep in while lying in the reclined version, Supta Virasana. For others, though, Hero Pose puts way too much pressure on the knees and/or ankles, making it totally and unbearably awful. If that's you, though, don't worry - you have options!
How to Get There
How does this help our legs? You're probably sick of reading this, but this really is a great stretch for your thighs, knees, and ankles! There aren't too many poses that wi
The most common (and most frightening) mistake I see in this pose is people going past their edge. "Going past your edge" may sound a little too yogi for you and it might not make sense, so let me translate in English: it is doing something your body is not ready for yet. For instance, say there is yogi trying this pose for the first time in a class, and they see other yogis taking it back into Supta Virasana. They want to do the same thing everyone else is doing, so they give it a go. This particular yogi's quads are still a little tight, though, so his/her knees end up popping up off the mat (like in the picture below), and/or his/her knees separate way too far apart. I'm willing to bet that at this point, this yogi is feeling some serious discomfort and possibly pain, risking long-term injury. This yogi would be "past his/her edge." He/she should start off sitting upright with a block and/or blanket/towel, and only move deeper when the body is ready for it, and overtime, it will be!
It may be apparent (or obvious) by now that this pose can be scary for the knees, but it really doesn't have to be! It's a great pose to practice patience and stillness while you explore the modification or variation that makes the most sense for your body. Try to relax so that you can enjoy the sweet stretch that happens on the fronts of the thighs and into the knees and ankles! Maybe even force a smile to help take some of the pressure out of your mind...sounds strange, but it really does work!
I’m Anahita Reilly, a Type-A, native Northern Virginian, happiness lover. This blog evolved out of my longstanding desire to share this beautiful thing called yoga with others. Click here to read more...