Supta Virasana: Reclining Hero Pose
Supta virasana (SOUP-tah veer-AHS-ah-nah), is the reclined version of hero’s pose. This shape is a deep knee bend and a deep hip flexor stretch — props are always a friend to this pose!
Philosophy + Origin
In order to be a hero in the world, you first need to be a hero to yourself. This restorative posture reminds you to be your best so you can give your best to the world and community. Although not often celebrated, the quiet moments of rest and restoration are as vital to creating and sustaining the hero as more noticed, grand “heroic” gestures. As you take time to practice supta virasana, reflect on how making space for yourself in your day creates more space in every other aspect of your life. The more expansive you are, the more capable you are of being the hero the world needs you to be.
- Practice ardha supta virasana (half reclining heros pose) to test out the intensity by keeping one leg extended. Hold for up to 10 breaths, then switch sides.
- Use support as needed under the upper body — try folded blankets, bolsters, blocks or any combination to find the right height for your body.
- Place a sandbag on your thighs to help relieve pressure on your hips and thighs.
- To deepen the pose, extend your arms over your head.
- Place a thickly folded blanket under your knees to relieve knee discomfort.
- Begin in virasana (hero pose). Hold this posture until you can comfortably sit between your heels, knees on the floor.
- To lie back, shift your weight to your hands, then to your forearms on the ground. Use your fingertips and palms to support your lower back and begin to release all the way to the ground or the supports behind you. Keep your knees in line with your hips.
- Lengthen your lower back. Think about drawing your tailbone forward to help your lower back soften toward the floor under you. Lay your hands at your sides like you would for savasana, palms up and fingers relaxed.
- Stay in this posture as long as it is comfortable, beginning with one minute and working up to five. When you’re ready to release, use your forearms and hands to return to virasana. Keep your chin tucked and lead with your chest.
- Supta = reclining
- Vira = hero
- Asana = pose
- Strengthens the knees, ankles, and arches of the feet.
- Improves digestion, relieving diarrhea, gas, and other issues.
- Encourages restful sleep.
- Helps alleviate symptoms of asthma and other respiratory issues.
- Calms the mind.
- Improves mental digestion.
Uttana Shishosana: Extended Puppy Pose
An intelligent pose to help lengthen the spine and relieve mental stress, uttana shishosana (OO-ta-NAH she-SHO-sahna), is a hybrid pose — a cross between balasana (child’s pose) and adho mukha svanasana (downward facing dog). Uttana shishosana is a great way to energize the physical and subtle bodies for when you’re feeling fatigued, or when you’ve been stuck behind a desk or in a chair all day. Energetically, the posture has the benefits of increasing both self-confidence and self-love.
Philosophy + Origin
Uttana shishosana is a great reminder of why we practice yoga: to feel better and to find tools to help us live our best lives. Named because of the way dogs and puppies stretch, this posture, while far from fancy, is effective in its simplicity. As humans, it’s easy to want to complicate life, always looking to the past or future in order to find meaning.
Dogs, on the other hand, are great at being present. Loyal and playful, our canine companions have a lot to teach us about relaxing and taking care of ourselves and those we love. As you practice extended puppy pose, allow yourself to settle into your senses. Allow yourself to linger (and lengthen) in the feel-good sensations.