Friday, September 2, 2011

September - Pose of the Month - Supta Virasana

Supta Virasana - Reclined Hero's Pose

This pose helps to not only stretch the muscles of the quadriceps, but also helps lengthen the psoas muscles, remove fatigue in the legs and brings flexibility to the knees and ankles.  Also, tension in the abdominal and pelvic areas are relaxed, internal organs release rejuvenating the nervous system.

I will show the full pose and then how to modify the pose if lying back in hero's pose is to stressful on the knees, back, neck or shoulders.

 For the full pose, without support, begin in Virasana.  Kneel on the floor and keep knees together, spread the feet and rest the buttocks on the floor between the feet. The feet should be outside the hips, with all 5 toes pointing back and resting on the floor.  Maintain an erect spine, releasing the shoulders down the back.
 Exhale, and begin to release hands back, then to elbows.  Begin to lengthen the arms so the crown of the head can rest on the floor.  Then rest the back of the head and then the back body on the floor.

 Make sure the back is NOT over-arching as above.  Draw the tailbone in and up the spine and lengthen the sacrum towards the knees.  Press the shins gently to the floor and towards the knees. Broaden the chest, lengthen the back of the neck and keep the face and neck relaxed.
 Then, extend the arms straight overhead and after a few breaths catch the elbows with the hands.  Make sure shoulder blades stay on the floor.  Bring arms back to sides and stay for a few more breaths.

 To come up, inhale, press hands into feet and come up to elbows, leading with the sternum (breastbone). Keep the spine lengthening.
Come to hands, keep lifting, bring head up last and sit in virasana for a few breaths.


For those that find supta virasana painful or would like a more restorative version you may need some of the props above. 1-2 bolsters, foam blocks, blankets, strap and possibly a chair.

Set the props up as shown here and in the picture above.  The foam block is to sit on, with the bolster behind for the length of the back and the blanket to support the back of the neck and head.
Come into Virasana by bringing knees together and pressing the center of the feet and ankles to the floor, feet out to the sides and cut the calf muscle in half and move the flesh back to create more space behind the knees.
Once in virasana there should be no pain in the knees.  If thighs not parallel wrap a strap around the shins and thighbones to hold legs together.  Do not strap to tightly if creates lower back pain when reclining back.
Here is another variation of how can strap legs, as it also creates more space behind the knees.  Bring strap to top of legs.
Bring the strap behind the crease of the knee.
And then around the inner knee and out to the side.  Do the same on the other side. You may need to place the crown of the head on the floor to move the knees together and adjust straps.
Once legs are together and are in virasana, bring hands to either side of the bolster, lengthen the spine and keep the chest open.  Draw tailbone in and up the spine, move sacrum towards knees and begin to recline back one vertebra at a time from the lower back to the top of the spine.  You will need to lower to elbows and move down and keep back ribs moving in.
Position the head so it is resting on the center back of the head, the shoulders are releasing and throat is soft. There should be no hardness in the abdomen.  IF there is, or if the back is stressed place another bolster on top of the first one.  Stagger it slightly, recline back in the same way.
Bring straight arms overhead, keep shoulder blades in and catch elbows and keep moving lower back to knees.

Here is a photo of using two bolsters.  Bring arms back down to sides.  Rest with palms up, chest expanding and relax the breath.  Keep face, abdomen and throat soft.
To come out, press elbows, then hands into floor.  Come up from the sternum bone, as if a string if helping to bring up back up.  Keep the spine lengthening so do not strain the lower back.  Bring head up last and sit in Virasana for a few breaths.  You can release the legs by either stretching them back one at a time or coming into Adho Mukha Svanasana (Down Dog).

There are many other adjustments, but here is one more.
Using a chair, turned upside down. Place near a wall so it does not slip.
Set up with bolster across to support the length of the second bolster. Sit on a foam block and support head.  Go into and come out of pose as described above.

Benefits: Stretches abdominal organs and pelvic region, rejuvenates tired legs - good for athletes or those who do a lot of standing or walking for many hours and brings flexibility to knees and ankles.  Also brings healing energy to the digestive and urinary system and can help ease certain menstrual problems. Helps relieve tiredness and relaxes the nervous system.

Cautions: If adjustments do not help to release stress in knees or back come out of pose.  Also, do not practice during menstruation if you are bleeding heavily.


Namate.
Pamela Nelson
www.plnyoga.vpweb.com





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