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Hero Pose (virasana)

Seated posture that increases the flexibility of your legs.
 

Hero Pose (or virasana) increases the flexibility of your legs by providing a deep stretch to your knees, ankles and the top of your thighs and feet. This pose is often used in breathing practices and meditation. The name of the pose comes from the Sanskrit word "vira, which means "hero" or "warrior".
 
When you first start practicing Hero Pose, you may find that you cannot sit on the floor between your feet.
 
If you cannot sit on the floor, you can sit on a prop, such as a block or folded blanket. You can gradually lower the height of the prop when you feel less pressure on your knees and a less intense stretch in your thighs. It may take several weeks of practice before you can sit on the floor between your feet. Never strain your knees in an attempt to sit on the floor.
 
You should avoid performing Hero Pose if you have a knee or ankle injury.
 
Steps:
Kneel on the floor with your knees hip width apart and your thighs parallel.
Move your feet a little more than hip width apart, keeping the top of your feet flat on the floor.
Lean forward and then use your hands to turn the fleshy part of your calves outward.
Exhale as you sit on the floor between your feet.
(If you feel any discomfort in your knees or you cannot sit on the floor, place a prop, such as a block, thick book or folded blanket, between your feet and sit on the prop.)
Place your hands on the top of your thighs close to your knees, with your palms facing down.
Relax your shoulders and upper body, keeping your spine straight and tall.
Point the crown of your head toward the ceiling and gaze straight ahead.
(Visualize yourself as a warrior sitting tall and proud.)
Hold the pose for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
(After performing Hero Pose, you should shake out your legs to help relieve your knees, ankles and feet.)
 
How can I stretch my upper body in Hero Pose?
Interlace your fingers and then extend your arms forward, parallel to the floor. Turn your palms away from your torso so your thumbs are pointing toward the floor. Inhale as you raise your arms above your head until your palms are facing the ceiling. Be sure to keep your neck long and your shoulders relaxed. Stretching your upper body in Hero Pose can help reduce stiffness in your neck and shoulders and open your chest, increasing your ability to take deeper breaths.
 
The top of my feet hurt when I perform Hero Pose. What can I do?
If the top of your feet hurt while performing Hero Pose, you can place a folded towel or blanket under your feet. Placing a folded towel or blanket under your feet can also help reduce any strain you may be experiencing in your knees.
 
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