Virasana, or hero pose, is how I feel God designed humans to sit. Before chairs, cars, and trappings of modern life, humans for thousands of years just sat with knees flexed. You even see this shape with the new “ergo” chairs for people with back pain.
My have we gotten away from our roots! I see a lot of students with stiff ankles, knees and hips who have a difficult time getting and staying into this pose. That doesn’t mean by any means that those students are ungodly, it just means that modern life has had more influence on them than it should have.
Taking back your roots, you should practice virasana daily. Once you get past the stiffness, it is great relief on all the major joints of the legs. I have a student who ran marathons his whole life and has very stiff ankles. I advised him to try this modification:
As you can try to see (it’s hard to do yoga selfies) my ankles are at the edge of a bed. This takes all the strain off the ankle and lets the feet have freedom.
One note about virasana is you should NOT TOLERATE any knee pain. If this is happening, make sure your knees and ankles are on the same plane of the shin bones. Feet should not sickle and toes should be pointed straight back. If knee pain persists, build up height under the buttocks via pillow or block until the knee pain is not felt. See below
Virasana was a pose designed for meditation as you can literally build your time to over an hour in this pose. I often sit in Virasana on the floor and laptop on a chair to “build my time.” My teacher Val who visited the RIMYI institute in India said she saw a student put a 100 pound plate on his thighs in the pose and would stay in the pose for the two hour practice.
If you have continued questions or concerns about virasana, you can email me or contact an Iyengar teacher near your. Here is a link to find an Iyengar teacher: