Supta Virasana, or Reclining Hero’s Pose, is the reclining variation of Virasana, a seated yoga pose in which the buttocks rest on the floor between the feet, with the legs bent at the knees and the calves resting alongside the thighs, feet pointing backward. In Supta Virasana, the torso is lowered backward slowly until the body is resting on the floor, legs still bent at the knees, parallel to the thighs. It’s considered an intermediate pose that deeply stretches the back, legs, knees, hips and chest, and may require props before one is able to fully recline comfortably. The benefits, however, make practicing Supta Virasana worthwhile.
Supta Virasana stretches the abdominal muscles and has a powerful effect on digestion, the Chagrin Yoga website reports. It can be practiced after meals and before retiring at night if you are prone to constipation, or when traveling takes a toll on your digestion, resulting in bloating and diarrhea. The muscles and organs in the pelvic region also benefit from Supta Virasana; this pose is often indicated for menstrual pain and cramping as well as fertility issues.
Back and Legs Stretch
The deep stretch Supta Virasana confers to the back, legs, hips, knees and ankles makes this an excellent – and challenging – pose for athletes who may have tightness in their quadriceps, hamstrings, hip extensors and psoas muscles, or have joint pain or injuries. Too sedentary of a lifestyle can also cause tightness, particularly if you’re sitting most of the day, which can cause lower back pain and tired, aching legs. Practicing Supta Virasana relieves weary legs and tight muscles, and increases flexibility, all of which are also beneficial to those suffering from arthritic conditions.
The stretch Supta Virasana places on the chest and shoulders counteracts the forward hunching posture of those who spend their days working at a desk or using a computer, and relieves muscular tension and stress. Because a rounded posture can also be a protective mindset manifested on the bodily level, the Yoga Basics website explains, the chest opening of Supta Virasana encourages a willingness to be vulnerable and open, and to be present to the emotions that might arise from that. Supta Virasana also benefits breathing and is indicated for respiratory issues such as asthma.
For beginners, Supta Virasana may seem to confer too deep of a stretch on too many tight areas, but with plenty of practice and props to support the back and knees, it can be a beneficial restorative. Restoratives are seated or supine poses that are held without effort, allowing the body to open and soften through passive stretching. The benefits are deep relaxation, a calm, meditative mind and a full, relaxed breath — all of which trigger the body’s parasympathetic nervous system to slow the heartbeat, lower the blood pressure and balance the immune and endocrine systems.
As with any new exercise, begin slowly and progress at a level comfortable to you. If you have serious back, knee or ankle issues, you should avoid this pose or learn a supported variation under the guidance of an experienced yoga instructor.
- "Light on Yoga"; B.K.S. Iyengar; 1979
- "Yoga Journal" magazine: Reclining Hero Pose
- Yoga Art + Science: Restorative Poses: Supta Virasana