Virasana is an excellent thigh opener that is also often used for meditation or pranayama. The knees are kept together (or at least relatively together), while the heels eventually rest to either side of the hips with the sit bones resting on the floor.This can place strain on the knees for some people. It is best to work toward Hero Pose slowly. If you feel strain or pressure in the knees, modify by adding height under the hips (a blanket or bolster) or work in low lunge as an alternative.
Kneel down on the floor with the knees touching and the feet a little wider than hip width apart. Before you sit back completely, reach back and roll the calves out of the way of the thighs, then bring the sit bones to the floor (or a blanket or bolster if you are sitting on height). Once you are seated, bring your hands to the thighs and roll them inward slightly and press lightly on the heads of the femurs with the palms. Tuck the tailbone and lift the crown of the head. The hands can rest lightly on the thighs or you can place the backs of the palms on the knees and bring the index and thumb together in Chin Mudra.
If the knees tend to come apart more than a little bit, you can use a strap to keep them together. If full virasana is not yet available to you, you can start with the feet underneath the hips, then slowly widen them as you get more comfortable in the pose. Sometimes the tops of the feet are pressed strongly into the floor which can be a little painful. To counter this, you can take the hands and roll the feet in (pressing into the little toe side of the foot), or place a blanket underneath the feet.
If you have any questions, please leave a comment below. I’d love to hear from you or see you at one of my classes!