How to perform Downward-Facing Hero Pose
Join your feet together under your buttocks and keep your knees far enough apart for your ribs to fit in between your legs as you fold forward. You can rest your forehead on the floor or on a block.
What is Virasana Forward?
This is a truly universal pose as it can be used at any point in your sequence. Let your back stretch out to capacity as you extend your arms forward along the floor.
Feel the muscles in your back and neck release into a gentle stretch, keep your shoulders and collarbones open. The heels of your feet are placed right beneath your buttocks and your knees are far enough apart for your ribcage to fit snuggly in between your thighs. This allows for more freedom as you breathe yourself deeper into the stretch. The arms, still as they may appear, stay dynamic and activated, counteracting the pull of gravity and extending outwards with the rest of the body. During warm-ups or more active sequences, resist gravity and pull your chest up off the floor. During restorative and pranayama sessions or cool-downs, you can practice a more passive variation, stretching out over a bolster or some other support.
You can place a block under your buttocks if your knee joints are too tight. If you are unable to bend your knees this way you can also substitute this pose for the Simple Cross Legs Forward bend.
Your head either stays lifted slightly off the floor, is placed on the mat, or is supported by a block. In the last two instances, you allow your neck muscles to relax more, as they don’t need to support any extra weight.
When to use Virasana Forward?
It can be used in a flowing sequence, as a transition between Plank Pose and Adho Mukha Svanasana, or in a more static sequence, where you get a chance to sink deeper into your upper body and feel your back extend softly. Another way to use the pose is in a restorative sequence. In this case, you will typically hold the pose for a couple of minutes, focussing on your breath and the expansion and contraction of your ribcage.
This pose offers you a great way to warm up your shoulders before you assume positions such as Adho Mukha Svanasana, Urdhva Mukha Svanasana, or more complex shoulder-strengthening exercises.