Article by Dr Raghuram Y.S. MD (Ay) & Dr Manasa, B.A.M.S
Supta Virasana is an asana in which the person who does the asana or the pose assumes the shape of a reclining hero. Therefore it is called as Supta Virasana or Reclining Hero Pose or Reclined Hero Pose.
Supta Virasana or Reclined Hero Pose
Supta = Reclined, sleeping
Vira = Hero
Asana = Pose, Posture
Supta Virasana is an intense variation of Virasana or Hero’s Pose. It is an intermediate level asana. This asana makes your body to come into total reclined state. It is highly beneficial for your body and a good exercise as well. At the same time it could be extremely difficult and painful to do it at the first attempt. Knowing and having practiced Virasana thoroughly for long duration might help you to get into Supta Veerasana easily. Thus a good practice of Virasana is an important perquisite for performing the reclined hero pose.
Preparation for Supta Virasana
- You must make sure to keep your stomach and bowel clean and empty before starting Supta Viraana. For this, you need to have your food 4-6 hours before performing or starting this pose. By the time you start the asana, your stomach will be empty and the energy derived from the digested food put into circulation, helps you to practice the asana with energy and enthusiasm.
- Some Yoga experts opine that Supta Virasana is extremely beneficial if it is done after having your food i.e. immediately after food consumption. But you need to discuss with your Yoga teacher before doing this asana.
- Supta Virasana bestows on you the best health benefits when you do it early in the morning. But in case you are not able to do it in the morning schedule due to other commitments, you may plan to do it during the evening schedule.
Method of doing Supta Virasana
Positioning for the Asana
- Start this asana by assuming Virasana or Hero pose.
- Kneel on the floor.
- Ensure that your knee joints while you kneel are directly placed under your hips
- Rest your hands on your knees.
Performing and getting to the Supta Virasana
- After positioning yourself in kneeling position, bring your knee joints closer to each other. This will automatically widen your feet. Ensure that your feet are wider than the width of your hips.
- Now firmly press the tops of both your feet (dorsum) on the floor.
- Gently move your hips downwards such that you find yourself sitting on the floor or the Yoga mat, in the space between your legs.
- Roll the calves away. Make sure that your hips are right between your heels. While doing this pose, make sure that you do not develop a sharp and twisting pain or awkward sensation in your knee joints. If this happens, you need to stop the asana immediately.
- Let the toes of your feet point outwards and backwards. Inner parts of your ankles should be drawn in to protect your knees.
- Now pull your navel inwards.
- Extend your tailbone from the crown of your head to the floor.
- Now place your hands by your sides. Exhale. Lean backward.
- Gently keep leaning backwards until your back rests on the floor. Do not hurry up in doing this. Be soft on self.
- Gradually shift your body weight on to your elbows.
- Release your lower back and butts.
- Push yourself gently towards the tailbone.
- Once you are comfortably placed or rested on the floor, take your arms over your head. Make sure that your palms are facing the ceiling.
- Now you are in Supta Virasana or reclined pose.
Release from the asana and coming back to the point of start
- Hold yourself in the reclined pose for about a minute. Then gently raise your head and torso.
- After totally raising from the floor, come back to Virasana or Hero Pose, the point at which you had started doing Supta Virasana.
- Relax and breathe freely.
Tips for beginners
When you begin doing Supta Virasana you find your thighs sliding apart. To avoid this sliding use a strap to bind your thighs together. Alternatively you can squeeze a thick book between your thighs. Gradually with practice, you should train yourself to do it without these adjustments. Make sure that you pull your inner groins into your pelvis.
Advanced pose (variation of Supta Virasana)
- To take Supta Virasana into an advanced stage or level, you need to involve your arms in the pose.
- Slowly inhale and raise your arms together towards the ceiling such that your arms are parallel to each other and perpendicular to the floor.
- Rock back and forth a few times.
- Broaden your shoulder blades across the back.
- Stretch your arms overhead on the floor. Let your palms face the ceiling.
- Let your armpits roll towards the ceiling.
- Pull your shoulder blades down and back towards your tailbone.
Purva and Paschat Asanas
Purva Asanas (Preparatory Asanas)
Before Supta Virasana, you can do one or more of the below mentioned Asanas –
Paschat Asanas (Post-Supta Virasana Poses)
- Baddha Konasana
- Lotus pose
Duration, health benefits
What time should be spent in the pose while doing Supta Virasana?
One can stay in Supta Virasana for 30 seconds to 60 seconds at a stretch.
Health Benefits of Supta Virasana
- Supta Virasana gives good stretch to your thighs, knees, ankles, abdomen, and deep flexors of your hips.
- Supta Virasana is a good relief for your tired legs. It cures flat feet.
- The arches of the feet are strengthened by Supta Virasana.
- This asana aids proper digestion of food. It cures acidity and intestinal gas, bloating and burping.
- The asana relieves menstrual discomfort.
- Supta Virasana cures asthma, respiratory ailments and high blood pressure
- It is a good remedy for arthritis, sciatica, varicose veins and headache
- The asana provides cure for diarrhea and digestive problems
- Supta Virasana is a good cure for infertility and insomnia.
Effect of Supta Virasana – Ayurveda perspective:
Effect on Doshas
Effect on Doshas and Subtypes
Supta Virasana calms Vayu, especially the Udana Vayu and Vyana Vayu. It also balances the axis between these two subtypes of Vayu and synchronizes their functions. When these two Vayu subtypes are balanced, the circulation and oxygenation reaches all parts of the body effortlessly providing energy, enthusiasm and drive to work. The lungs and heart are strengthened. The respiratory ailments including asthma, bronchitis etc are cured. The blood pressure becomes normal.
Balance of Prana Udana axis helps in treating insomnia and headache, cures nerve disorders.
Supta Virasana also balances and stimulates the Samana Vayu and Pachaka Pitta and aids proper digestion. With this many digestive disorders, diarrhea, acidity and distension of abdomen are cured.
Supta Virasana’s control over apana vayu functions helps in proper excretion of feces and urine, regulates menstrual cycles in women, cures menstrual discomfort and disorders, infertility, sciatica, varicose veins and low back pain.
Effect on Dhatus
Effect of Supta Virasana on Dhatus –
Supta Virasana helps in strengthening and stretching mamsa dhatu (muscle tissue). It also strengthens the asthi dhatu (bone tissue) and asthi sandhis (bony joints). This gives a good posture to the body and supports the balance of the body. The movements at the joints become easy and effortless. Diseases like arthritis, sciatica, back pain, flat feet etc are cured by regularly doing this asana.
Supta Virasana, what it promises!
Supta Virasana is a good stretching exercise. It gives the pelvic region (including the organs) and the abdominal organs a good stretch. By doing so the metabolism is improved. The disorders caused due to improper digestion are cured.
This asana also opens up the chest region, pelvis, and the torso. It relieves the body from pains and discomforts while improvising the elasticity and endurance of the body. It provides good immunity against headaches and cold.
Supta Virasana is known to improve the circulation of blood in knees, thighs and hips. It also increases the flexibility of the spine. The soreness, stiffness, discomfort and pain in the hips, knees, thighs and spine are removed by this asana.
With constant practice, Supta Virasana renews and rejuvenates the entire body.
Impact on Chakras
Supta Virasana balances the Swadishtana Chakra or Sacral Chakra. This chakra directly governs and manipulates your reproductive and sexual organs. It is responsible for creativity and fertility. It provides an emotional stability and enables you to be in ease with yourself. When this Chakra is balanced, you will feel more positive and receptive to changes. By increasing the blood flow to the pelvis and pelvic organs Supta Virasana will revitalize and recharge the Swadishtana Chakra.
Contraindications and precaution
Who should not do? (Contraindications and precautions for doing Supta Virasana)
Patients suffering from below mentioned conditions should avoid doing Supta Virasana –
- Chronic Knee problems, pain or injury
- Chronic Ankle problems, pain or injury
- Chronic Back problems, pain or injury
Supta Virasana is not an easy poses to practice straight away. Make sure you practice it under the guidance and supervision of an expert Yoga guide. You can do it all by yourself once you have mastered it.
Just Before Finish
Supta Virasana is one of the best stretch exercises for your spine and limbs. Apart from curing many ailments, it gives good strength and stretching to the torso while relaxing it to optimum levels. This asana is like a challenge which takes you to unexplored territories. As you strive and put efforts to achieve it and get it right you will become more aware of your body and the happenings therein. You will gradually learn how to deal with the hardships of your body and life. In this article, I have covered in depth about Reclined Hero Pose, with instructions for doing it, health benefits and contraindications.
Click to Consult Dr Raghuram Y.S. MD (Ayu) – Email / Skype