Virasana, Hero's pose, is a classic yoga posture that can serve as a stretch for the quadriceps and top of the feet, as a resting position between more active asanas, or as a great alternative to other seated postures for pranayama and meditation. However, there's a bit of controversy over the alignment of the feet. Should they point straight back? Or angle outward a bit, as illustrated in the attached image?
In the following video, which was shot during a recent ASFYT course in NYC, Jason makes the case for the latter by showing with the bones how maintaining a straight line along the anterior tibia through the top of the foot helps prevent rotation of the tibia relative to the femur and preserves a healthy alignment between the femoral and tibial condyles. Please note that the video doesn't really dive into some of the other common concerns in Virasana, such as how much medial rotation is healthy (too much can cause compression in the hip joints and varies from one person to the next), or how to modify for tightness in the quadriceps or top of the feet using blocks and blankets. However, in general we're fans of preventing compression in the joints, being comfortable, and using props... as you'll see in the video. Enjoy, and let us know your thoughts in the comments!
Virasana (hero's pose) is a fantastic seated posture for beginners because it fosters a tall, upright spine for pranayama and meditation. However, it requires flexibility in the quadriceps and the ankle dorsiflexors, and if these muscles are tight then a student might experience pain in their knees and/or feet. To accommodate tightness in the quadriceps, all that is really needed is to decrease the amount of knee flexion by sitting on a block or two placed between the feet. However, accommodating tightness in the ankle dorsiflexors requires a bit more finesse.
In this post, we'll review the muscles that plantarflex and dorsiflex the ankles and go over a few modification that will accommodate tight dorsiflexors. We've also included a video from one of the recent ASFYT-3 classes where we offer a strategy that might help prevent cramping when coming into the pose, as well as how to fold the blankets for our favorite modification.