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A woman doing a yoga pose, Supta Virasana, lying in a kneeling position on a bolster and blanket

Supta Virasana: Your Stomach’s Friend

Supta Virasana, reclining Hero Pose, is just what I need today after experiencing the Big Xmas Lunch Indulgence. No doubt it will be followed by the Big Boxing Day Seafood Extravaganza. And then, a few days of clearing our fridge of leftovers that threaten to go off in the near future.

If you’re finding that your stomach feels as a tight as a drum head when you get back on to your yoga mat, Supta Virasana might be just the pose for you.

We know that our stomachs are special organs that need to be well-catered for. Think of all the great expressions that we have created for this organ: excitement or infatuation… ‘butterflies in the stomach’, intuition… ‘gut feeling’, dislike or disgust… ‘can’t stomach (something)’, nourishment… ‘armies marching on their stomachs’.

We also know that our stomachs need to be well-exercised. That’s why we do our asanas utilising those internal locks called bandhas–i.e., Mulabandha and Uddiyanabandha. We need poses like Ardha Navasana and Paripurna Navasana in our practice to strengthen our abdominal muscles and organs.

Supta Virasana is the premier pose for stretching the stomach. It’s also great as a back bend preparation and for relieving tired or restless legs.

How to Do the Pose:

Props needed: A bolster and blanket(s)

  • Sit kneeling, with your buttocks between your heels on the floor. If you cannot sit without discomfort, you might need to sit on a block or a folded blanket between your heels.
  • After you’ve determined whether you need the extra blanket, take a position with the bolster longways behind you. Place a three-fold blanket on the far end of the bolster.
  • Use your hands for support, and slowly lie back to rest your torso on the bolster and your head on the blanket.
  • You may be able to have your knees together. But be sure to take time to see if you want your knees close together or apart. Keeping a block between your knees instead of trying to keep them together can mitigate knee stress.
  • In the beginning, aim for a three or four minute timing. But as you become accustomed to the pose, you can increase your time to 5 minutes or more.

In my yoga practise over the years, I do Supta Baddha Konasana for a five minute timing, followed by Supta Virasana done for five minutes. I find the combination creates a calm state of mind. Try doing them together at the end of a practice to cultivate equanimity for pranayama or meditation.