Heart-opening and deep spine extension can make you feel heroic when in Supta Virasana, which roughly translates from sanskrit into "Reclining Hero pose." Kneeling on your shins and laying all the way back provides a tremendous stretch to your quadriceps and hip flexors. The pose also activates a number of energy meridians, offering therapeutic applications for a range of health issues.
If you fail to engage your core when you lean back in Supta Virasana, you may experience hyperextension of the lower back. Tight hips and hamstrings will stand in the way of the full expression of the pose, so ease into the posture and never force the deep flexion of your knees and extension of your spine.
To get into Supta Virasana:
Sit on your shins. If your knees feel OK, spread your shins enough to let your buttocks touch the floor. Keep your lower legs alongside your hips. Become comfortable with the upright variation of the pose before progressing.
Begin to lean back. Support yourself at first with your hands, then your forearms and, if you can go down with ease, allow the tops of your feet, your upper back and back of your head to make contact with the floor.
Opens the Front Side of the Body
Supta Virasana counteracts the forward flexed position many people find themselves in over computers, during car commutes and sitting in comfy chairs when they relax at home. This often results in rounded shoulders and weak upper back muscles, with the consequence of stiffness and pain through your back. By lying back on your legs, you counter the tendency to cave forward and instead, open the chest, fronts of the shoulders, hip flexors and thighs.
Therapy for the Knees and Feet
B.K.S. Iyengar, one of the most notable yoga gurus of modern times, promoted Supta Virasana as a way to heal stiff knees and treat flat feet. The pose can be painful for people with knee issues or tight quadriceps and hips, though. Modifications offer a way to experience the benefits of the posture without the pain and possible injury involved in the full recline:
- Kneel on your shins and sit your buttocks over your heels; stay upright as you breathe.
- Place a stack of blankets or a bolster behind your back as you recline so the angle isn't as dramatic.
- Sit on your shins and place a block under your sits bones to lessen the angle at the knees.
It's believed that yoga poses can activate various energy centers in your body to offer healing. A teacher might recommend Supta Virasana if you're suffering from arthritis or sciatica, as the pose opens the hips.
By bringing more circulation to the lungs and other breathing organs, the pose benefits those with asthma, a head cold or other respiratory issues. Use Supta Virasana to also stimulate digestion, ease belly woes, such as diarrhea, and treat menstrual cramps.
The open nature of the pose makes it especially useful when you want to deep breathing, which is especially helpful in combating insomnia.
From a yogic standpoint, exposing the front side of your body in a pose like Supta Virasana connects you to deep-rooted feelings. As a result, you become more in touch with your self and your feelings, which helps foster compassion and sensitivity to your needs and the needs of others.