Adho Mukha Virasana

Common Title Adho Mukha Virasana
English Title Downward Facing Hero Pose
Sanskrit Title Adho Mukha Virasana
All Titles Downward Facing Hero Pose, Adho Mukha Virasana,
Pose Level Beginner
Pose Position Sitting
Pose Type Forward-Bend, Stretch
Sanskrit Pronunciation Play Audio
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Yoga Sequences

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In Sanskrit, ‘Adho’, implies ‘down’. Here the body moves downwards while keeping in mind the flow of energy or prana which is part of the yoga practice. The downward flow of prana from the base of the spine towards the crown of the head is what refers to ‘Adho’. This pose Adho Mukha Virasana simply talks about the Downward movement of the face towards the floor, and is a variation of Virasana or Hero Pose. Considered to be a more relaxing pose, where the spine is completely at rest, it is normally practiced between the peak poses or at the end of the practice.

How to do Adho Mukha Virasana

The below cues and yoga sequences added by yoga teachers show multiple ways to do Adho Mukha Virasana depending on the focus of your yoga sequence and the ability of your students.

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  1. Kneel on the floor w/ knees together and feet spread apart hip distance. Rest buttocks on the floor, Modification is setting on feet, block or blanket... ...
  2. A. Moving from Vajrasana, bring the arms stretched upwards and as you exhale bend forward at the hip and place the arms on the floor and stretch the ... ...
  3. A. Release from the pose of Vasisthasana II and bring the body to relax in Downward Facing Hero Pose. B. Relaxing the feet, the arms, the shoulder... ...
  4. Exhale. Repeat this series (from downward dog) 3 times. ...
  5. Sentar-se sob os calcanhares, estender braços a frente mantendo os cotovelos fora do chão, encostar a testa ao chão. Liberar qualquer tensão nos om... ...
  6. Inhale, keeping knees together, separate the feet so as to allow the hips to rest comfortably on the mat. Feet are slightly wider than your hips, wh... ...
  7. Stretch arms forward and make them active, pressing whole hands into the floor and straightening elbows. Take hands further apart if shoulders are fe... ...
  8. Hinge forward from the hips, NOT the lower back. Knees still wide. ...
  9. Exhale bottom to the heels, head to the mat. Adding on once more. ...
  10. At the end of the sequence, bottom to the heels, rest the head to the mat. Few breaths here, catching the breath. Adding to the sequence. ...
  11. Bottom to the heels, head to the mat, child's pose. Few breaths here. If at any point of our practice you need take a rest, come to this pose and j... ...
  12. Relax with your hands forward. Hold for a few breaths. ...
  13. Kneel on the floor w/ knees together and feet spread apart hip distance. Rest buttocks on the floor, Modification is setting on feet, block or blanke... ...
  14. Spingete su e tornate dietro alla posizione del bambino. Riposati. Prendete cinque respiri. Vi rilassati. Riconnettete con la tua intenzione di... ...

Discover more cues, teaching ideas, and how to do steps at How to Do Adho Mukha Virasana

Adho Mukha Virasana Benefits

Adho Mukha Virasana Benefits:

Considered to be a great therapeutic pose, there are many more benefits that will be derived from the practice of this pose. They are mentioned below:

  • Stretches and Opens the hips, thighs and the legs: With the pressure in the inner thighs, the knees, the ankles and at the hips, this pose brings a great stretch to the entire hip muscles, the hamstrings, quadriceps and the calves. Though this stretch is gentle, it is a great opener for the above said muscles.
  • Stretches and expands the entire back: This pose also stretches the entire back, mainly the sides of the upper back while the arms are stretched out completely. This stretch as explained in the human anatomy is at the Latissimus Dorsi muscles.
  • Acts as a restorative pose for the hip and back muscles: The Downward Facing Hero Pose is considered as a restorative pose and hence can be practiced after a good yoga session for the lower back and the hips. This pose can act as a counter movement to the spine after the practice of deep backbend poses acting as peak poses.
  • Stretches and expands the spine: With the arms stretched out deep forward, the spine too then gets its stretch. This also helps it to lengthen with the stretch which works as a great advantage for the practice of various deep yoga poses.
  • Pressure at the stomach and the abdominal muscles helps in digestion: While the tummy is pressed against the thighs in Adho Mukha Virasana,, it compress...
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Adho Mukha Virasana Contraindications

 (Downward Facing Hero Pose) Adho Mukha Virasana Contraindications:
  • Not to be practiced by those who have injured knee or any kind of ligament tear at the knee joint.
  • No injury at the ankles including ligament tear.
  • People with very weak hips or lower back muscles, should take it easy first with the practice of Virasana before attempting this variation.
  • Women in her later stages of pregnancy should avoid this practice, as it will be hard both on the knee and the hips.Can lead to cramps in the tummy while doing this pose if the breathing is wrong or hard.
  • Very weak digestive system can be considered as a contraindications, if one is not familiar with yoga practice and hence best done with guidance.

Adho Mukha Virasana Variations

Adho Mukha Virasana Variations: Below are some common variations of the yoga pose Adho Mukha Virasana with base pose as Hero Pose (Virasana).

Adho Mukha Virasana Steps

 (Downward Facing Hero Pose) Adho Mukha Virasana Steps:

Steps to follow for the practice of Adho Mukha Virasana or Downward Facing Hero Pose, is given below.

  1. Start to kneel down at the centre of the mat on your knees while extending the legs behind you resting the upper feet on the floor.
  2. Inhale, and bringing the knee close to each other, sit down slowly taking the hips towards the floor.
  3. While going down, place the feet apart, bringing the hips on the floor to settle.
  4. Your feet are slightly wider than your hips, while the upper ankles and the toes touch the floor.
  5. Seated comfortably on the floor supporting the spine and the hips, make sure the knees touch each other, flexing the upper thighs and hips.
  6. Extend the spine upwards straight from the base of the spine and bring the shoulders down and against your back.
  7. Place the hands on the thigh in front of you and take 4 breaths to be seated in Virasana.
  8. Inhale and raise the arms above your head extending the torso and as you exhale go forward stretching the arms on the floor while resting the chest, face, abdomen respectively towards the floor and the thighs.
  9. Stretching out the entire arms on the floor bring them parallel to each other while resting the palms on the floor. Using the abdominal muscles and the lower back muscles, stretch deeper as you exhale completely.
  10. Flexing the knees and the ankles, watch for the stretch at the thighs, the quadriceps and at the hips. The base of the spine would feel tight initially to go forward to completely touch the floor with the face, but with practice this can be achieved.
  11. Inhale, loosen the body and exhale go deeper with the forward downward stretch. Remain here for about 5 breaths.
  12. Inhale and raise the head up first, the arms next, the shoulders and the chest, the abdomen and the hips to come to sit back in Virasana with complete exhalation.
  13. Release and relax, if required stretching the legs out in Dandasana. Inhale and repeat this again folding the legs at the knee and placing the upper foot on the floor to go into the second round of practice of Adho Mukha Virasana or Downward Facing Hero Pose.
  14. One could release to go into Downward Facing Dog Pose too as a counter movement.

Adho Mukha Virasana Modifications

 (Downward Facing Hero Pose) Adho Mukha Virasana Modifications:

For beginners this pose could be challenging as it is hard on the knee and the ankles, and hence modifying this pose can help to practice this variation of Virasana.

Placing yoga block on the floor behind you, to rest the hips can be a good start. Placing rolled up blankets or yoga mats just behind and below the back of the knee could be a good support for the thighs. Make sure the yoga blocks are placed on the floor between your feet.

Adho Mukha Virasana Preparatory Poses

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Adho Mukha Virasana Relaxing Follow-up Poses

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Adho Mukha Virasana Yoga Sequences

Adho Mukha Virasana Titles in English and Sanskrit

Many yoga poses have multiple titles because of differences in their Sanskrit to English title translation or a specific title becoming popular because of it's common usage amongst yoga teachers and yoga practitioners. Below are common titles of Adho Mukha Virasana:

  • Downward Facing Hero Pose
  • Adho Mukha Virasana

Adho Mukha Virasana Sanskrit

Please click on the link below to listen to Sanskrit pronunciation of Adho Mukha Virasana:

Play Sanskrit Audio File.

Adho Mukha Virasana See Also

It is important to keep in mind that this pose, Adho Mukha Virasana, may look similar to Prasarita Balasana or Variation of Vajrasana, but it is not, as the feet and knees are placed differently. Only with practice will one be able to identify the difference in the various muscles that are stretched in these poses.

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