Supta Virasana ‘Reclining Hero Pose’- Benefits, Practice & Contraindications

Common Name(s)Saddle Pose and Reclining Hero Pose in English, Supta Virasana in Sanskrit
MeridiansKidneys and Bladder
ChakrasSolar Plexus (Manipura Chakra)
ElementsFire

Supta Virasana is called Saddle Pose or Reclining Hero Pose which resembles a saddle placed on the horseback for riding. 

This is a supine pose which influences the kidneys and bladder meridians. The pose involves bending the spine backwards which affects muscles of back, feet, ankles, chest, knees, neck, pelvic and quadriceps. This is why it is also called a reclining pose. 

The pose activates and regulates the functioning of the Fire element of the Solar Plexus, called Manipura Chakra in Hindi. It controls Pitta dosha and prevents diseases resulting from its imbalance.


Supta Virasana Contraindications

Let us first know the special precautions for this asana. This is important to avoid injuries and harm to the body. 

1/4. This pose should not be done if you have a bad back. Even when you have tension or stiffness in the sacroiliac (SI) joints, you should not do this posture.

2/4. This asana uses the muscular strength of knees and thighs, so if you have issues there, avoid doing this asana.

3/4. The posture also puts pressure on ankles. So, if ankles protest while getting into the pose, do not practice it. 

4/4. People having heart issues, such as blocked arteries, angina or recovering from the bypass surgery should not do Supta Virasana.


How to do the Reclining Hero Pose?

Following are the steps involved in doing Supta Virasana. There are some variations to this posture which help in either building up the stretch or strength gradually or are alternatives to doing it.

1/3. The pose can be started by either sitting down in Vajrasana and slowly going back using the support of hands, or by lying down in Shavasana (Corpse Pose) and folding the knees to bring the ankles beneath the hips. Many of you would find using the Shavasana way of entering into the pose easier than Vajrasana one.

2/3. If you have entered from a sitting position, take your hands back, resting the palms on floor. Slowly move the hands down and back if needed and bend the spine downwards. Put the weight of the body on arms. As you go down, come to rest the weight of body on forearms.

Bending down slowly, rest your shoulders on floor and take both hands upwards of head and stretch these.

3/3. If you are entering this pose from a lying down pose, simply fold the legs on knees backwards to let the ankle come under the hips. Stretch both hands upwards on head.

You can make use of bolsters to support the back arch which bends, the shoulders and even the neck region.


Time Duration to stay in the Pose

You can stay in the pose for the time you are comfortable with. However, it is recommended that 5 minutes is a good time period to hold in this pose. 


Supta Virasana Benefits

What advantages does Supta Virasana behold for people? 

1/5. By bending backward, the flow of blood to heart arteries is increased. This strengthens the heart and prevents the blockage of arteries.

2/5. Elasticity of lung tissues is enhanced which increases its capacity.

3/5. It leads to opening of sacral-lumbar arch and flexes knees and hips. 

4/5. For people who have to stand or walk for long time, this is a very good pose to relax and can be considered as a counter-pose to these.

5/5. This pose is good for thyroid if the neck is dropped back.


How to get out of the Supta Virasana Pose?

There are three good ways to come out of this pose.

1/3. Using the hands, lift yourself up, just as you came down. Again, using hands, release the hips and move out the ankles. Straighten the legs.

2/3. Roll to any one side, release the folded legs and straighten these. Use hands to get up from the side. 

3/3. Take the folded legs out first and straighten these. You can, then, easily use the hands to push the floor and get up straight or roll on to one side and then get up.


Alternatives and Variations

There are a good number of variations and options that can be used to do this pose in more comfortable manner. These are suitable for people who are not in a position to get into the pose in one go and in the given manner. So, these alternatives are good for these people.

1/4. Half Saddle is one the alternatives. In this pose, only one leg is folded back beneath the hip and the other leg is either placed straight on the floor fully, rested with feet on floor and knees bending from upwards or is held close to chest. 

2/4. A variation could be to use the saddles to support the arching back, ankles or shoulders.

3/4. As the head goes down, it opens the throat. Overhead stretched arms open the shoulders. 

4/4. You can make use of the bolster to lift the hips so as to be more comfortable. 


Counter poses to Supta Virasana

Counter poses to this asana help in relaxing the muscles and joints which have been exercised.

1/3. Child pose- Balasana is one of the counter pose which involves a forward bend.

2/3. Crocodile pose is another counter pose which involves lying on belly.

3/3. On coming out of pose, you can hold the knees to the chest which releases and relaxes the lower back.

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