In English, Virasana (veer-AH-sana) translates to Hero Pose. It could be that it is so named for the straight back required of the pose like a hero who stands tall with his back straight, poised to protect. This pose requires strength of the body, mind and spirit to hold for extended periods.

Getting into Virasana
To get into Virasana, start on your hands and knees with a neutral spine. Inhale and slowly lift your upper body, tucking your hips under until youre sitting straight with your shins hip width apart on the mat, hips over your knees, and shoulders and head in line with your hips.

As you exhale, lower your hips to the ground so youre sitting between your feet. Bring your knees together. You should also have a small gap about thumbs width between your heels and your hips.

Check in with your thighs. There should be a slight inward rotation. Also focus on the tops of the feet, pressing the entire area including the little toe toward the earth.

Turning your attention to your upper body, slide your shoulder blades down your back, extend your tailbone towards the earth and the crown of your head towards the sky to lengthen your spine, which should be straight.

Rest your hands, palms turned up, on your thighs in your choice of mudras.

You can keep your eyes gently closed, or focus your gaze a few feet in front of you. And, breathe. Stay here for 30 seconds to start and slowly work your way up to longer.

Tips and Precautions
If youre never done Virasana, keep a prop nearby to sit on until you know how your body, especially your knees, will feel in the pose. If you feel any pain in your knees, use a block, folded blanket, or bolster to raise your hips.
A blanket or towels under your knees or ankles may also help relieve pressure.

You can do your own adjustment on your feet by using your hands to make sure the pressure on the outer side of the foot is equal to the pressure on the inner foot.

Its very easy to let the body collapse in the pose. Remember to continue sitting straight, elongating the spine from the tailbone to the top of your head. You may also find it useful to move the flesh of your calves outward to help your hips move lower to the earth.

Benefits of Virasana
Virasana is one of the commonly used postures for meditation. That should give some indication of its main benefits calming the mind and body.

Its also one of the few postures that address the tops of the feet, ankles and shins as well as inward rotation of the thighs and hips, making it a counter posture for lotus and similar hip openers.

Virasana is also said to improve digestion, helping to lower high blood pressure.

Being a hero is not an easy role in life. Likewise, hero pose is not easy. Be gentle with yourself and listen to your body.