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Hero Pose is a classical seated yoga posture that stretches the thighs and ankles while improving posture. It is one of the most ancient and traditional postures used for meditation and breathing exercises (pranayama). Its Sanskrit name, "Virasana" (veer-AHS-uh-nuh), comes from two words

• "Vira" — meaning "hero"

• "Asana" — meaning "pose"

Hero Pose is similar to the seated pose called "Thunderbolt Pose," (known as "Vajrasana" in Sanskrit). The main difference is that the feet are together in Thunderbolt Pose, while in Hero Pose, the heels are alongside the hips and the buttocks are on the floor.

This pose can be difficult for those with tight knees, thighs, or groins. But when practiced correctly, it will actually help the mobility and health of your knees! Beginners should start by using props (see Modifications And Variations, below) and take it very slowly. nnIt can take months or even years to reach the full expression of the pose, so remember there's no need to rush! With patience and practice, you will gain all of the benefits Hero Pose has to offer.

• Begin kneeling on the floor. Place a folded blanket beneath your knees, shins, and feet if you need it to feel more comfortable. Your inner knees should be together and your thighs should be perpendicular to the floor.

• Open your feet slightly wider than your hips, keeping the tops of your feet flat on the floor and your big toes angled in toward each other. Press down evenly across the tops of both feet.

• With an exhalation, lean your torso forward slightly as you sit your hips back halfway. With your hands, reach back and draw the skin of your calf muscles toward your heels. Your back will round slightly as you do this.

• Sit down between your feet, resting weight equally across both sit bones. Keep your heels and shins alongside your hips and upper thighs, with your feet directly in line with your shins. Do not let your feet either splay wide open or turn inward.

• Allow your thighs to turn inward slightly. Press down on the tops of your thighs with your hands. • Sit up straight and draw your should blades firmly against your back ribs. Broaden across your collarbones, drop your shoulders away from your ears, and lengthen your tailbone to the floor.

• Lay your hands on your thighs, palms down. Gaze downward toward your cheeks.

• Hold the pose for up to one minute, or for the duration of your meditation .

or pranayama practice.

• To release the pose, press your palms firmly on the floor and lift your buttocks. Cross your ankles and shins beneath your body, and then extend your legs straight out in front of you in Seated Staff Pose (Dandasana).

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Hero Pose stretches and increases flexibility in the knees, ankles, and thighs.

It teaches practitioners internal thigh rotation, and it also helps to reduce tightness in the legs

. Additionally, the pose strengthens the arches of the feet. Because of the upright spinal alignment in the pose

Hero Pose improves posture and helps to relieves asthma.

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