Yoga for Absolute Beginners: Virasana

David Procyshyn
Instructor David Procyshyn
Average: 4.7 (60 votes)
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Thunderbolt pose (virasana) can be particularly hard on the knees and ankles, so David shows you how you can sit comfortably using blankets and pillows, while still getting the most from the pose and maintaining the ability to move into other stretches. He also shows you how to make a bolster if you don't have one. This class is a part of a 'Yoga for Beginners' series.

Equipment: Strap, Block, Bolster, Blankets
Style: Gentle Yoga, Hatha Yoga


MissAlyssa 2 years ago

Hi David,
I attended a yoga studio for just shy of a year, but have since moved out to the country where there isn't a studio for miles! I haven't practiced yoga for about six months and wanted to do the beginner series to really focus on the fundamentals and make sure that I didn't have any bad habits, since it wasn't really feasible for my previous instructor to focus specifically on MY form all the time with a room full of experienced yogis to teach.
I experienced a non-unsubstantial amount of pain in my knees and inner ankles during this video. I have dynamic arches in my feet, meaning that if the arches don't have to work, they drop down low (similar to a lazy eye, but for arches). Because my legs developed this way, my kneecaps and second toes do not line up. My kneecaps literally point inwards when my feet are parallel, and I therefore need to point my feet outward for my knees to bend straight. I have shoes and exercises to work on correcting/managing this, but because of this misalignment, I found aligning my calves with my heels and middle toes nearly impossible and fairly painful, no matter how many blankets and pillows I used. It took me about 10 minutes after this video to be able to straighten my knees without pain (and without physically moving them with my hands). The inner ankle pain feels like it may be due to a very intense stretch. Are either of these pains normal? Should I be modifying this somehow? It may be worth noting that the tops of my feet were flat on the ground, whereas yours only partially touched the ground.
Any guidance you could offer would be greatly appreciated :)

David Procyshyn 2 years ago

Hello MissAlyssa!
Thanks for the description. The best way to adapt your body to this pose is to provide more support under your bum and ankles, wherever needed. Don't worry about aligning everything perfectly, just work with what you have and make adjustments so that you are not experiencing any pain or intense discomfort. If your body says 'no', don't do it.

If you are unable to get into virasana (kneeling) comfortably, then either sit in a chair or sit cross-legged, if you can do that comfortably.

dchamorro99 2 years ago

Hi David, thank you for these classes, its my first time with yoga and I've been really enjoying it. When I tried this, after I put both my hands in my back, my lower back started to bend forward, is this normal? I kept pushing it back to make my spine more straight but it hurt when I did. I also couldn't connect my hands when my right one was up, is this a problem? I have bad posture and a low degree of kyphosis, should I keep trying?


David Procyshyn 2 years ago

Hi there. Yes, you can absolutely keep trying, with the understanding that it's best to find out for yourself what you can do to make your posture and alignment feel good. It's difficult for me to give specific advice without seeing you in person, but what I can say is that you can attempt to adapt the poses to your body using the props. For example, if you find it hard to reach your arms back or up without arching your back, use the strap in a way that allows you to reach back a bit less and maintain the length in your lower back.
Let me know if you have any more questions.
Take care.

Irenchi 2 years ago

Hi David,
I have been wanting to start with yoga since..ages...I had no time to go to any studio (cause of my work style - long hours and frequent travels) and all the tutorials I have found before were not offering what I was hoping for - explanations on how and why...even for very basics...They more looked like mass fitness sessions (the ones where you have to many attendees so teacher cannot focus on you ate all) rather than what yoga should be (or how I kind of pictured in my head)...I realized that I am spending more time and effort to keep up with the pace and figure out what to do, instead of doing the right thing. So I would quit, almost immediately
That's why I want to THANK YOU sooooo much for making me wanting to continue!!!

creek 3 years ago

I feel so defeated. My knees are arthritic and I cannot bend them anywhere close to the video. Is this pose absolutely essential in order to continue to practice yoga? For now I will stick to the chair poses and hope that will also strengthen my legs and hips.

David Procyshyn 3 years ago

No, sitting on the heels is not so common that it will become a problem if you can’t do it. Most of the time, you’ll be seated on your bum with your legs crossed, and even if the teacher is sitting on their heels, you can sit cross legged if you need to.

Have you done the beginner class on sukhasana? You’ll be fine if you were able to sit relatively comfortably in sukhasana (cross-legged).

Lizzie888 3 years ago

In doing these beginner's classes I have come to realise just how bad my posture has become. I am starting to use muscles that have become lazy after years of incorrect alignment. Thank you David I will return to these fundamentals often to ensure I am not cutting corners.

sarahreneewolfe 3 years ago

You know, I've been practicing yoga on and off for maybe around twenty years. I've never learned the specifics of these basic concepts and poses. I did the first class in this series yesterday. I've been doing most of these very basic poses incorrectly all these years, which explains so much to me about why my body struggles with many poses. I think just about every person who has ever done yoga should watch these classes, no matter how much of an expert they may be. It's always good to go back and refresh the basics anyway. Thank you so much for these videos! I'm so grateful!

tobyglynn 3 years ago

a great place to start (along with episode 1) before you move into more complicated stuff like sun salutations