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Benefits of Supta Virasana and How to Do it By Dr. Himani Bisht

By Dr. Himani Bisht +2 more

Introduction: 

If you think yoga is all about stretching, twisting and bending your body, it is time to rethink. In simpler words, yoga is about giving care to your mind, breath and body. Yoga helps harmonize the body with the mind and breath through asanas and pranayamas (breathing techniques). Asanas or poses are the building blocks of yoga; one such asana is supta virasana. In this post, we’ll briefly introduce you to supta virasana and give some tips on getting started with it. 

What is Supta Virasana? 

Supta virasana is also known as the reclining hero pose or reclined hero pose. The word is derived from the Sanskrit words “supta”, meaning lying down, “vir” meaning hero and “asana” meaning pose or posture. This yoga depicts a state wherein the body lies in a position similar to that of a reclining hero, hence translating to a reclining hero pose in English. Virasana is the preparatory pose for supta virasana and paryankasana is the follow-up pose for supta virasana.2 

supta virasana

How to do it? 

Supta virasana must be done properly for maximum health benefits. One may perform supta virasana in the following manner: 

  • First, roll out a mat and sit in Vajrasana, i.e. sit on your knees. Ensure your buttocks rest flat on the floor, with feet kept by the sides. The toes should point back and touch the floor. Keep your wrists on your knees, palms facing up, and the tips of the thumb and forefinger joined. Take a deep breath and proceed. 
  • Next, slowly lie down on your back in the same position and, one by one, rest your elbows on the ground. 
  • Slowly extend the arms and relieve the pressure on the elbows, the arms should be stretched straight over the head. 
  • First, rest the crown of the head on the floor. Gradually rest the back of the head and then the back on the floor. Take the arms over the head and stretch them out straight. Hold this pose as long as you can while breathing deeply. Then place the arms beside the trunk, press the elbows to the floor and sit up again with an exhalation. 
  • The hands may be stretched over the head or placed beside the thighs. When they are stretched over the head, do not raise the shoulder blades from the floor.  
  • Exhale, this state of your body will depict the pose of a reclining hero, and thus, it is called the reclining hero pose or supta virasana.2 

As per my observations, Supta Virasana is a yoga pose that offers several benefits. One of them is its potential to help with sciatica. Practising Supta Virasana regularly and correctly might help alleviate the discomfort associated with sciatica.

Dr. Siddharth Gupta, MD

Do you know? 

  • In Indian mythology, Hanuman, the vanara king is known as “vir” hanuman and was both a dasa (servant) and vir (hero) to Lord Rama. Virasana personifies Hanuman; and supta virasana is the continuation pose of virasana. Supta virasana was mentioned in the 8th and 13th centuries in ancient books like Patanjali yoga shashtravivarana and vashishthasamahita.  

Benefits of Supta Virasana:  

Some benefits of this pose are as follows: 

Benefit of supta virasana in irritable bowel syndrome 

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a disorder clinically manifested as abdominal pain and changes in bowel habits. Evans et al. conducted a study in 2014 to assess the effect of yoga interventions like supta virasana on IBS.  Six weeks of yoga intervention with asanas like supta virasana showed an improvement in the symptoms of the subjects. Therefore, yogasanas like supta asana may help in managing irritable bowel syndrome. However, supta virasana should not be considered an alternative to modern medicine. Kindly consult a doctor for proper treatment. Additionally, it is advised to practice this asana under the supervision of a qualified trainer.3 

Benefit of supta virasana in menstrual health 

Rest is advised during the initial 2-3 days of the menstrual cycle. However, yogasanas like supta virasana are considered safe and may positively impact the menstrual cycle. Kulkarni et al. conducted a review in 2021 to assess the health benefits of yoga interventions like supta virasana. The findings of this study showed that supta virasana might help reduce abdominal cramps and pelvic pain. Also, it may help in reducing fatigue during the menstrual cycle. Thus, the practice of asanas like supta virasana may positively impact the menstrual cycle, but the practice of this asana should not be considered an alternative to modern medicine. Kindly consult your doctor for proper treatment of any menstrual irregularities or abnormalities. Additionally, it is recommended to practice this asana under the supervision of a qualified trainer.4 

Benefit of supta virasana for depression 

Depression is a common, often neglected, but serious medical condition that negatively affects how you feel, act and think. Yoga practice is based on the motto “healing comes from within”; the practice of yoga may help achieve peace of mind. Rajathi et al. conducted a literature review in 2015 on yoga postures and their health benefits. The summary estimates of this review support that the practice of supta virasana may help alleviate the symptoms of depression. However, it is recommended not to rely on this asana alone and consult a doctor for proper treatment of depression. Additionally, one should practice this asana under the guidance of a qualified trainer.5 

Benefit of supta virasana on thyroid disorders 

There are two main types of thyroid disorders, one characterized by decreased production of thyroid hormones (hypothyroidism) and the other characterized by excessive thyroid hormone production (hyperthyroidism). A review by Narayan et al. in 2017 stated that yogasanas like supta virasana might have the potential to manage thyroid disorders. Supta virasana helps stretch and compress the thyroid gland, improve the blood flow, provide nourishment to the cells and thus, improve the functioning of the thyroid gland both in hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism. Thus, the practice of supta virasana may positively impact thyroid disorders. However, there are no clinical studies conducted so far to support these claims. So, kindly consult a doctor for proper treatment and not rely on this asana alone. Additionally, one should practice this asana under the supervision of a qualified trainer.6 

Benefit of supta virasana on agility 

Agility is the ability of the body to move and change body direction quickly and is influenced by balance, coordination, and muscular strength. Rajathi et al. conducted a study in 2015 to assess the health benefits of practising supta virasana. He concluded the practice of this asana might improve balance, body flexibility, and muscular strength and boost immunity and energy levels—these benefits aid agility. This indicates the practice of supta virasana may positively impact agility. However, you should not rely on this asana and consult your doctor for proper treatment. Additionally, it is recommended to practice this asana under the supervision of a qualified trainer.5 

Other benefits of Supta Virasana: 

  • Asanas like supta virasana may help balance tridoshas (vayu, kapha and pitta), which are the energies in the body that regulate mind, body and behavior.7 
  • It may help in improving quality sleep and reduce insomnia.5 
  • Spiritually, the practice of asanas like supta virasana may help in leading a life with meaning, purpose and direction.5 
  • It may help in improving digestion by stimulating the secretion of digestive juices.5 

Note- The above-mentioned benefits of supta virasana are not proven in any human study yet, and are totally based on a literature search.  

Yoga practice may help develop the mind and body; however, it is still not an alternative to modern medicine. Therefore, you must not rely on Yoga alone to treat any condition. Instead, please consult a qualified doctor who will be able to assess your condition correctly and advise accordingly. Moreover, it is necessary to practice and learn Yoga under the supervision of a trained yoga teacher to avoid any injuries. 

As a doctor, I would suggest taking Supta Virasana into account because of its potential advantages for health problems. It might help with the management of ailments including arthritis and asthma.

Dr. Rajeev Singh, BAMS

Risks of Supta Virasana 

Conditions, where supta virasana should be performed with caution, are: 8 

  • For people who have foot cramps, this asana puts pressure on their feet, and it may cause slight discomfort. Instead of a yoga mat, a soft blanket can be used for proper support. 
  • People with back pain should avoid overstretching. 

Conditions, where supta virasana is contraindicated, include: 8 

  • People with hip, knees, legs, neck or abdominal surgery. 
  • People with migraines, headaches and vertigo. 
  • Pregnant women should avoid performing this asana as it stretches abdominal muscles and puts pressure on the unborn baby. 

Conclusion 

Supta virasana is also known as the reclining hero pose or the reclined hero pose yoga. The word is derived from the Sanskrit words “supta” meaning lying down, “vir” meaning hero; and “asana” meaning pose or posture. Virasana is the preparatory pose for supta virasana. The practice of this asana may help in improving muscular strength, flexibility, depression, sleep, thyroid disorders, menstrual health, digestion and irritable bowel syndrome.  

Frequently Asked Questions 

1) Which is the reclined hero pose in yoga? 

Supta virasana is also known as the reclining hero pose or the reclined hero pose yoga. The word is derived from the Sanskrit words “supta”, meaning lying down, “vir”, meaning hero; and “asana”, meaning pose or posture. This yoga depicts a state wherein the body lies in a position similar to that of a reclining hero, hence translating to reclined hero pose in English.1 

2) What is the preparatory pose for Supta virasana? 

Virasana is the preparatory pose for supta virasana. Virasana helps stretch the thighs, knees and ankles whereas; supta virasana offers a stronger stretch in the reclining position.2 

3) What are the steps of supta virasana? 

First, roll out a mat and sit in vajrasana, i.e. sit on your knees. Ensure your buttocks rest on the floor, with feet kept by the sides. The toes should point back and touch the floor. Keep your wrists on your knees, palms facing up, and the tip of the thumb and forefinger joined. Take a deep breath and proceed. 
Next, slowly lie down on your back in the same position, and one by one, rest your elbows on the ground. Now, slowly extend the arms and relieve the pressure on the elbows, the arms should be stretched straight over the head. Either you can stretch your arms over the head, or you can place them beside the thighs. Lastly, exhale, this state of your body will depict the pose of a reclining hero and thus is called as reclining hero pose or supta virasana.2 

4) What are the benefits of supta virasana?

The practice of this asana may help in improving muscular strength, flexibility, depression, sleep, thyroid disorders, menstrual health, digestion and irritable bowel syndrome.3-7 

5) What are the contraindications of supta virasana?

People with hip, knees, legs, neck and abdominal surgery, migraines, headache and vertigo and pregnant women should avoid performing this asana.8 

Disclaimer: The information provided here is for educational/awareness purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional and should not be relied upon to diagnose or treat any medical condition. The reader should consult a registered medical practitioner to determine the appropriateness of the information and before consuming any medication. PharmEasy does not provide any guarantee or warranty (express or implied) regarding the accuracy, adequacy, completeness, legality, reliability or usefulness of the information; and disclaims any liability arising thereof.

Links and product recommendations in the information provided here are advertisements of third-party products available on the website. PharmEasy does not make any representation on the accuracy or suitability of such products/services. Advertisements do not influence the editorial decisions or content. The information in this blog is subject to change without notice. The authors and administrators reserve the right to modify, add, or remove content without notification. It is your responsibility to review this disclaimer regularly for any changes. 

References: 

  1. Woodyard C. Exploring the therapeutic effects of yoga and its ability to increase quality of life. Int J Yoga [serial online] 2011 [cited 2022 Nov 10]; 4:49-54. Available from: https://www.ijoy.org.in/text.asp?2011/4/2/49/85485 
  1. B.K.S. Iyengar. Light on Yoga. The bible of Modern Yoga-Its Philosophy and practice-by the world London: Thorsons.1966;108-109. Available at: https://mantrayogameditation.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/Light-on-Yoga_-The-Bible-of-Modern-Yoga-PDFDrive.com-.pdf  
  1. Evans, Subhadra et al. “Iyengar yoga for adolescents and young adults with irritable bowel syndrome.” Journal of pediatric gastroenterology and nutrition vol. 59, 2 (2014): 244-53. doi:10.1097/MPG.0000000000000366. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4146428/ 
  1. Kshama Kulkarni et al: “An Overview on Yoga alongside Its Benefits in Menarche and Menopause.” INTERNATIONAL AYURVEDIC MEDICAL JOURNAL. September 2021. Available at: http://www.iamj.in/current_issue/images/upload/2225_2231.pdf 
  1. Rajathi et al. THE ROLE OF HATHA YOGA IN HUMAN IMMUNO DEFICIENCY VIRUS (HIV)/ACQUIRED IMMUNO DEFICIENCY SYNDROME (AIDS). An International Journal of Research in AYUSH and Allied Systems. Sep 2015. Available at:  https://www.researchgate.net/publication/352877805_THE_ROLE_OF_HATHA_YOGA_IN_HUMAN_IMMUNO_DEFICIENCY_VIRUS_HIVACQUIRED_IMMUNO_DEFICIENCY_SYNDROME_AIDS 
  1. Narayan Mali et al. Hypothyroidism and Alternative Treatment: An Overview. Ijsrm.Human, 2017; Vol. 6 (1): 38-52. Available at: https://ijsrm.humanjournals.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/4.-Mr.-Suraj-Narayan-Mali-Dheeraj-Shivaji-Magar-Rahul-Ashok-Sachdeo-Miss-Tejaswini-Sanjay-Morbale.pdf 
  1. Sharma M , Role of Ayurveda in the Management of Alcohol withdrawal symptoms -A Case Report, Ann Ayurvedic Med. 2021; 10(4) 440-446 DOI:10.5455/AAM.51042. Available at: https://www.bibliomed.org/mnsfulltext/70/70-1612168937.pdf?1671713877 
  1. How to do Supta Virasana (reclined hero pose)  cult.fit. Available at: https://blog.cult.fit/articles/how-to-do-supta-virasana-reclined-hero-pose-benefits-variations-precautions (Accessed: December 22, 2022).  

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