Our teacher Donald Moyer is a fan of the American mythyologist and writer, Joseph Campbell.  One of the books Campbell authored, The Hero with a Thousand Faces, explores the archetypal adventures of the hero common to both mythology and spriitual quests.  “A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder; fabulous forces are encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from his adventure with power to bestow boons on his fellow man.”

Donald Moyer believes that each time we practice the Yoga postures with care and attention we repeat the hero’s journey.  Our obstacles are the physical tensions and psychological fears that we face.  Our victory “the moment of illumination or inward surrender that carries us deeper into a pose.”  Our attained powers are calmness of spirit, vitality, and clarity that we carry back to the world.

In Virasana,The Hero Pose, you assume the posture of a seated warrior.  Vira in sanskrit means hero.  In Light on Yoga Mr. Iyengar says of the pose that   “Due to the stretching of the ankles and the feet proper arches will be formed. This, however, takes a long time and requires daily practice of the pose for a few minutes over several months. “

My own experience of Virasana is that it is an excellent pose to begin an asana or meditation practice with. When I establish myself well in the pose, my breath deepens and my mind becomes quiet and observant.  Sitting in Virasana after a sequence of standing postures or anytime when the legs are tired is a good way to rest and bring life back into the legs. Because Virasana bends the knees, ankles, and hips in the opposite direction than the cross-legged poses, it is an excellent counter pose.

For these reasons, you may want to consider making Virasana a pose you practice daily.

VIRASANA – The Hero Pose

Come onto your hands and knees.

Bring the knees close to each other and onto the same horizontal line.

Separate the feet enough to sit between them.  Keep the toes pointed straight back and the feet parallel.

Begin to bring the buttocks toward the floor.  At the same time, release the flesh of the calves outward and toward the feet.  The center of the shin bone should be parallel to the ground.

Sit between the feet.  If the buttock bones do not reach the ground, or you feel strain in the knees as the ground is reached, sit on one or two blocks.  If you feel pain on the tops of the feet, place a rolled washcloth under the front of each ankle.

Ground the pose from the legs and feet.  Extend the spine upward toward the crown of the head.

To help create space in the body for the spine to lengthen, interlock the fingers, turn the palms away from the body, and extend the arms forward and upward over the head with an inhalation. Exhale, bring the hands back down.  Change the interlock of the fingers so that the opposite baby finger is on the outside and repeat. Maintaining the length of the spine, place the palms on the thighs or knees, and sit quietly.

Benefits:  Relieves tired legs and stretches the feet.

Contrandications:  If you have a knee or ankle injury do not do this pose without the advice of a qualified teacher.