Supta Virasana (Reclining Hero Pose)

Iyengar's difficulty rating: 2* out of 60*

Iyengar's Technique:

  1. Begin in Virasana (Hero Pose).
  2. On an exhale, lean back and place your elbows on the floor, one at a time.
  3. "Relieve the pressure on the elbows one after the other by extending the arms." Note: I don't know what Iyengar means by this.
  4. At first, lean your head back and place the crown of your head on the floor. Gradually move deeper until the back of your head is n the ground, then your upper back. Stretch your arms straight, alongside your ears. Remain in this shape as long as possible while breathing deeply. Then place your arms beside your torso, press your elbows down, and sit up with an exhalation.
  5. "The hands may be stretched over the head or placed beside the thighs. When they are stretched over the head, do not raise the shoulderblades from the floor."
  6. "Beginners may keep their knees apart." 

Comparing Forms:

  • Iyengar and I have very similar forms. It is difficult to tell from the picture whether his low back is closer to the floor than mine, but that raises an interesting point absent from Iyengar's technique: this pose may create a feeling of strain in many students' low backs. Attempting to posteriorly tilt the pelvis (moving glutes towards knees and front hip points towards low ribs) lengthens the low back and moves your spine closer to the floor. This is often the best way to alleviate that particular discomfort, although it also stretches the front of your thighs more deeply and requires significant mobility.