Heron Pose - Krounchasana

Heron Pose - Krounchasana
Heron Pose - Krounchasana. Ann Pizer

There's a lot going on in heron pose, which helps open all the major muscle groups in your legs, but don't be daunted because there are also a lot of ways to modify the full position so that it's more accessible. The main stretch here is in the hamstrings, so warming them up first is a good idea. The most common mistake is to let the spine curve forward. It's important to keep the spine nice and straight, so I'll describe some ways to make that happen.

Type of Pose: Seated

Benefits: Stretches the hamstring and calf on the extended leg. Stretches the quadriceps on the bent leg.


1. Begin seated in staff pose (dandasana) with both legs extended in front of you and the spine nice and straight. If you usually sit up on a blanket in staff pose to help elongate the spine, you can definitely sue a blanket for the same purpose throughout this pose.

2. Fold your your left leg back into a half hero pose (virasana) position. Your left foot should be outside your left hip, not under it. Take care to keep the left foot pointing straight back and the left knee hugging toward the midline. If virasana is painful for your knees or doesn't work for you for some other reason, just keep your left leg forward instead, bending the left knee in a one-legged sukasana.

3. Bend your right knee and bring your right foot to the floor close to your right sit bone.

4. Hold your right foot with both your hands and lift it off the floor.

5. Lean your torso back slightly and anchor your shoulder blades onto your back and your arms into their shoulder sockets.

5. Slowly straighten your right leg as much as you can. Remember to keep your spine long and your shoulders down.

Don't hunch forward in an attempt straighten your leg more. Your extended leg and your torso should make a narrow V shape.

6. Hold for about five breaths and then release and set up for the other side.

Beginners' Tips:

1. If you leg does not easily straighten there are several options. You can keep your knee slightly bent, but I favor a solution that will open the hamstring more. One option is to let go of your foot and instead hold your ankle or calf if that gives your the mobility to straighten your leg. The other way is to use a strap. Place the strap around the ball of your right foot. Hold one side of the strap with each hand. This has the added benefit of allowing your shoulders to move back and down. 

2. If you find that you can straighten your leg, but only if you round your spine forward, you've lost the integrity of the pose. Use one of the solutions described above so that you can maintain optimal spinal alignment.

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