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.
Malasana: Squat Pose or Garland Pose
A great stretch for ankles and the lower back, Malasana (mahl-AH-sana), which is also referred to as Squat or Garland pose, opens the groin and tones the belly. While comfortable for some, Malasana can be difficult for others. Appropriate adjustments and modifications can help students enjoy the benefits of this posture while strengthening and opening the muscles needed to practice Malasana and other postures.
Philosophy + Origin
There are many beautiful attempts to defend the translation of Malasana as “Garland Pose.” While mala most commonly refers to a garland or rosary, many students have a difficult time understanding how this imagery applies to the pose. Some teachers argue that the shape of the body depicts the bead on a mala, or perhaps the arms look like a mala or garland hanging from the neck. Other teachers will use the story of how this posture is traditionally taken when receiving the gift of a garland from a spiritual teacher. While all very poetic, there’s another lesser-known understanding of Malasana that makes more sense. The word mala can also be translated as excrement. Considering the digestive benefits of this posture, it makes a lot more sense.