Supta Virasana | Reclined hero's pose
"When you are unable to breathe well, you might feel an accompanying sense of anxiety, even panic. Reclining Hero’s Pose can reduce these feelings by relaxing you.”
–Judith Hanson Lasater
Once this posture is instructed during class (usually as the peak or cooling posture), the students should allow themselves to ease slowly into their lower back to release any tension found around the pelvis and front of the body. But that’s not all this posture can provide in terms of release. If the student's back is well supported, then the chest is as well and will create a space of opening and release in the areas of ‘stress’ (and anxiety) carried within the body. The full variation of this posture is rarely something that can be slipped into effortlessly and oftentimes requires props (such as bolsters, blocks and blankets) to support different parts of the body [i.e. ankles, knees, lower back and sacral area].
Whether being done in a restorative class or a more active style class like Yin or Stretching, the support of the props greatly affects the benefits and how we feel in this pose. Staying in this pose with discomfort in the body (knees, ankles, & lower back) defeats the purpose entirely due to its relaxing nature. The objective is to relax into this posture and hold for a few breaths; therefore, properly setting up support with yoga props allows the body to ease into the posture and truly reap the benefits of it.
There are numerous benefits to this posture and they vary greatly on physical, emotional, & mental levels. Generally, Supta Virsasana reduces fatigue in the legs from walking and standing by stretching the front of the body. Postural correction of the lumbar curve also energizes the body and helps counter the effects of aging and sedentary lifestyles. It also affects the respiratory tree – the throat, bronchial tubes, and upper lungs and relieves pressure in the head from any sinus issue.
On an even subtler level, many meridians of the body are stimulated with this posture. The stomach, spleen, kidney, & urinary bladder more specifically get targeted and supported for release and rejuvenation. By lifting the diaphragm off the stomach & liver, this pose will alleviate digestion and nausea caused by a blocked stomach meridian, gathering more sympathy & compassion.
Our spleen will benefit by reducing worry & indecisiveness, and will welcome more feelings of believing in our creative potential and trusting the process. A harmonious urinary bladder meridian will promote urinary tract health & lends additional support to the kidney meridian to encourage inner wisdom & gentleness.
Energetically, by working all of these areas, the first three chakras (root, sacral, and solar plexus) benefit deeply. Breathing in this pose anywhere from 3 to 15 minutes is sure to bring about a more grounded and energized body-mind-spirit.