Cat Pose, Mountain Pose, the "ten core poses" (Standing Forward Fold, Standing Side Stretch, Dog Pose, Spread Leg Forward Fold, Bridge Pose, Reclining Leg Stretch, Locust Pose, Sage Twist, Hero Pose, Shoulder Stretches) and the Lotus are presented here. The other thirty-two poses I recommend can be found in my book.
Hero Pose (Virasana)
The Hero Pose is one of the basic sitting postures, also excellent for meditation. The internal rotation of the upper legs and knees is opposite to the movement involved in Lotus Pose; as such, it both loosens the hips, knees and ankles in preparation for the Lotus and acts as a mild counterpose. The Hero is also the starting position for several forward bends, backward bends, and twists.
1 Start on your hands and knees as in 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.
2 Sit between your feet by first supporting yourself with your hands and then slowly lowering your hips to the floor (photo 1). If you are unable to sit comfortably, or if you feel any pain in your knees, elevate your hips by placing a folded 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.
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.
4 Rest your hands in your lap, on your thighs, or on your ankles, then close your eyes. With your eyes closed you'll be better able to sense inwardly for the perfect alignment. 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. Breathe smoothly, settle in to where you are, and let the weight of your body sink down into the earth as the inner feeling rises. Become more and more grounded, increasingly relaxed and undefended, and feel yourself gently expanding. Be still. Feel the energy you are made of. Feel the peace within you. Sit quietly for at least a minute.
5 For some people this position is exceptionally easy, for others it is one of the most frustrating. Proceed slowly if you experience any difficulty. Be careful not to strain your knees. Do not be impatient, be persistent - gently. Practice this pose frequently.
6 Occasionally, secure a strap around your thighs so they stay parallel. This will enable you to relax your legs without losing their proper alignment. The strap, however, is a training wheel. Use it sparingly.
7 Remember, the purpose of yoga practice - and motionless sitting in particularÓ- is to experience the truth about what you are. It's about the wave experiencing itself as it is and thereby experiencing its inherent ocean nature. Every specific wave is the entire ocean in specific expression and the peace of the ocean's depth is its peace - available to be experienced. Each one of us is an individually unique expression of the one and only divine Self, God's infinite Self-Expression. And like the wave, we can never get away from our source. The wave is what it is because of what the ocean is. Therefore sit quietly, relax everywhere, immerse yourself in the easy flow of breath, and feel what's happening right where you are. Be effortlessly attentive. Feel the peace within you, the peace of Mind.
Benefits: Hero Pose or Virasana
Stretches feet, ankles, knees, thighs, hips. Relieves fatigue in the legs. Improves circulation and posture. A very comfortable sitting position, excellent for meditation. Be sure to prop yourself up on a folded blanket or zafu if you are unable to sit on the floor. If you experience any strain in your knees at any time, come out of the post and prop yourself up further before trying it again.
Cat Pose, Mountain Pose, Standing Forward Fold, Standing Side Stretch, Dog Pose, Spread Leg Forward Fold, Bridge Pose, Reclining Leg Stretch, Locust Pose, Sage Twist, Hero Pose, Shoulder Stretches, Lotus