‘Supta’ translated into English from Sanskrit is “reclined or supine” and ‘Virasana’ translated means “hero’s pose”.
Reclined hero’s posture can be described as a passive backbend or a classic front-opening pose. Sitting comfortably between the heels allows the front of the ankles, shins and lower legs to feel a stretch. As you lie back, the quadriceps and abdominal muscles lengthen, the knees are deeply flexed, and the hips are fully extended. Extending the arms overhead, continuing with the line of the body, adds a shoulder and chest expansion. Abdominal space is accessible because of the full elongation from the kneecaps to the fingertips.
Supta Virasana can be calming and relaxing when it is taught and practiced safely. The unique supine position of the body gives the pose an additional restorative quality that is both comforting and useful. Restorative yoga positions are held without effort. The benefits are deep relaxation, a calm, meditative mind and a full, relaxed breath. All these results cause the body’s parasympathetic nerves to slow the heart rate, lessen the blood pressure and balance the immune and endocrine systems.
Walking or sitting at a desk all day contracts and shortens muscles in the legs. Over time the hips tighten and the shoulders often round forward. Lying back in Supta Virasana allows one to experience an overall lengthening and counteracts the effects of hunching. Supta Virasana is the perfect antidote to a stressful day, tired legs, closed chest, full stomach and tight hips.
Supta Virasana is essentially a linear pose, but most practitioners need help to obtain this form. Some feel pleasure and release when they first enter the pose, while others feel pain and discomfort. Yoga teachers and students in general with knee or lower back issues, tend to avoid attempting or teaching this pose completely. This is due to incorrect instructions, misunderstanding or misguidance, lack of prop support and usage or previous bad experiences in the posture.
Props are seldom used in commercial studio yoga classes so students have little chance of experiencing any comfort, stability or benefit and therefore become reluctant to try it again. If the clarity of the seat is not felt, the practitioner is bound to feel discomfort in the legs or lumbar region. The basic foundations, the entry and exit of the posture are all important components of the overall experience.
Himalayan Iyengar Yoga Centre