Hanuman, the monkey God, is one of the most prominent characters in yoga mythology. His story is featured in the Ramanayana and he plays a short role in the Bhagavadgita. His most notable feat was to jump from India to Sri Lanka in order to save Sita, the wife of Rama. Hanuman was awarded Hanumanasana, a name that reflects his feat. splits). An article in Yoga International, written by Zo Newell, an Indian mythology expert, Hanuman was praised for his strength, courage and valor. Here is Zo’s take on Hanuman’s and Virasana’s (Hero’s Pose).
“Hanuman is the Indian mythical monkey hero. He is also known as Vir Hanuman (Hero Hanuman). Two primary attributes are said to be his. He is both Dasa (servant), and Viral (hero) in relation to Lord Rama. Hanuman’s “vira” side is highlighted in some images: Hanuman leaps, he lifts mountains, and he can accomplish impossible feats with strength and energy. One of his most distinctive poses, which displays his “dasa”, is known to yoga students as virasana. This is the hero’s pose.
Virasana was Hanuman’s pose when he wanted to express his devotion for Rama.
Hero’s Pose can stretch the legs and ankles, strengthen the arches and relieve gas. It can also be used to treat high blood pressure. It increases blood flow to the lower body and roots the energy in the pelvic floor, legs and pelvis. It is one the oldest yoga asanas and a key to pranayama and meditation.
PREPARING TO PRACTICE HEROES’ POSE
- For Virasana practice, you will need a Yoga Mat, at minimum two Yoga Blankets , , a Yog Block, and/or a yoga Bolster.
- To stretch your quadriceps muscles, do a Anjaneyasana lunge before you begin. To warm your quadriceps, you might also try some standing poses like Virabhadrasana (Warrior 1) or Virabhadrasana (2) (Warrior 2)
HOW TO PRACTICE HEROES POOSE
- For extra padding, place a blanket folded over the mat.
- Start by laying on your hands and knees. Start by placing your knees about an inch apart. Then, separate your feet slightly wider than your hips.
- Press your palms against your calf muscles. Press your fingers down on your calf muscles. Next, place your hands back towards your ankles and then sit your hips between your feet.
- Many people are unable to sit in this pose with their knees on the ground. You can place a blanket under your hips if you have any knee injuries or discomfort. You can also use a yoga block, or bolster to support your back.
- Continue adding height, such as blocks or blankets, until you are able to sit comfortably. This is important because your hips must be able to touch the ground. Make sure your block, blanket, or bolster are high enough that you don’t hover over the floor.
- You can try placing two washcloths behind your knees to relieve pressure. This will allow you to feel a little more space behind your knees, which can help relieve some discomfort.
- After you find a comfortable position, take five to ten easy breaths in Virasana. Your hips should be buried in your blankets or on the floor. Your sit bones should be buried in the earth. You can increase the length of your stay over time, as long as you’re comfortable. Once you feel ready, return to your feet and move into Uttanasana or Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose).
Donna Farhi states, “There’s not good knee pain.” The ligaments hold the knees together. Ligaments are stretched if you feel any discomfort or stretching. Ligaments don’t have the memory of muscles and they do not bounce back when stretched. Constant overstretching can cause knee joint destabilization.
Virasana may help to keep your knees flexible, but it is important that you approach it with care and respect. Some people take many years before their hips reach the floor. If they don’t, that’s fine too. Sitting on blankets and feeling comfortable with your knees is better than trying to push yourself down onto the ground and risking injury. A teacher with experience can help you find the best position for your health.
Virasana is a great defense against cold feet because of its circulatory benefits. It can be used as a substitute for sitting cross-legged during meditation, provided that you provide your body with plenty of support (e.g. blankets, bolsters, or blocks). Virasana is a great way to strengthen our legs and calm our mind/body energies.