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Yoga Exercise - Hero Pose (Virasana)

The Hero Pose is one of the basic Seated Postures, also excellent for Meditation. The internal rotation of the upper legs and knees is opposite to the movement involved in the Lotus Pose; as such, it both loosens the hips, knees, and ankles in preparation for the Lotus Pose and acts as a mild counterpose. The Hero Pose is also the starting Yoga position for several forward bends, backward bends, and twists.

STEP 1: Start with your hands and knees on the floor as in the Cat Pose. Have your knees hip-width apart so the thighs are parallel with one another, and separate your feet until they are slightly wider than your hips. Check that your feet are pointing directly backward, not turning in or out.

STEP 2: Sit between your feet by first supporting yourself with your hands and then slowly lowering your hips to the floor. If you are unable to sit comfortably, or if you feel any pain in your knees, elevate your hips by placing a folded Yoga Blanket or Zafu (Zen pillow) beneath you. Use this support until you experience a feeling of ease (this may take several months). Eventually, you will be able to sit between your feet with no discomfort with your buttocks firmly on the ground.

STEP 3: Sit tall. Counteract the tendency to slump by adjusting the buttock muscles sideways and back with your hands, and tilting the pelvis slightly forward so you are positioned on the frontal edge of each sitting bone. Then draw the abdomen backward toward the spine and delicately adjust your hips toward cat tilt to establish neutral alignment of your center, your pelvis making a ninety-degree angle with the thighs. You are now on the tips of the sitting bones.

Rest your hands in your lap, on your thighs, or on your ankles, then close your eyes. Elevate and free your chest, relax the shoulders back and down away from your ears, then lift or lower your chin until your head feels perfectly balanced, weightless on top of the spine. Sit quietly for at least a minute.

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