Hero Pose is a classical seated yoga posture that stretches the thighs and ankles while improving posture. It is one of the most ancient and traditional postures used for meditation and breathing exercises (pranayama).
Hero Pose is similar to the seated pose called “Thunderbolt Pose”. The main difference is that the feet are together in Thunderbolt Pose, while in Hero Pose, the heels are alongside the hips and the buttocks are on the floor.
Benefits (from yogajournal.com)
- Stretches the thighs, knees, and ankles
- Strengthens the arches
- Improves digestion and relieves gas
- Helps relieve the symptoms of menopause
- Reduces swelling of the legs during pregnancy (through second trimester)
- Therapeutic for high blood pressure and asthma
- Begin kneeling on the floor. Place a folded blanket beneath your knees, shins, and feet if you need it to feel more comfortable. Your inner knees should be together and your thighs should be perpendicular to the floor.
- Open your feet slightly wider than your hips, keeping the tops of your feet flat on the floor and your big toes angled in toward each other. Press down evenly across the tops of both feet.
- With an exhalation, lean your torso forward slightly as you sit your hips back halfway. With your hands, reach back and draw the calf muscles toward your heels. Your back will round slightly as you do this.
- Sit down between your feet, resting weight equally across both sit bones. Keep your heels and shins alongside your hips and upper thighs, with your feet directly in line with your shins. Do not let your feet either splay wide open or turn inward.
- Allow your thighs to turn inward slightly. Press down on the tops of your thighs with your hands.
- Sit up straight and draw your shoulder blades firmly against your back ribs. Broaden across your collarbones, drop your shoulders away from your ears, and lengthen your tailbone to the floor.
- Lay your hands on your thighs, palms down. Gaze downward toward your cheeks.
- Hold the pose for up to one minute, or for the duration of your meditation or pranayama practice.
- To release the pose, press your palms firmly on the floor and lift your buttocks. Cross your ankles and shins beneath your body, and then extend your legs straight out in front of you in Seated Staff Pose (Dandasana).
- To add a torso stretch to the pose, reach your arms forward until they are parallel to the floor with your palms facing down. Hook your thumbs or interlace hands. Then, on an inhalation, raise your arms overhead, until they are perpendicular to the floor with your palms facing forward. Exhale to lower your arms and release. Change the hook of your thumbs and repeat.
- Heron Pose: Sit in Dandasana (Staff Pose) and internally rotate your left leg for Half Hero Pose (Ardha Virasana). Then bend your right knee and grab your right foot with both hands clasping your fingers around the sole of your right foot. Lean back slightly, lifting the sternum. Rotate your pelvis forward so you are sitting firmly on your sitting bones. Engage your shoulders, pulling them down away from the ears. Inhale to lift the right leg up while holding your foot, angling it about 45 degrees from the floor—or as high as your hamstring can handle. Hold here for 5 breaths. Then exhale to release and switch sides.
- Reclined Hero Pose: Bring hands to the bottom of the feet and start to lower to elbows and forearms. Go further and release down to the back or the crown of your head. If knees lift back off or place bloster behind you to lay back on.
- Sit on a block if you can’t easily sit on the floor.
- If your ankles need extra padding in the pose, place a blanket beneath each one before coming fully into the pose.