It takes the tremendous strength of a warrior to “conquer” inner peace. The warrior
pose, or virabhadrasana (pronounced vee-rab-hah-DRAH-sah-nah), fills the body with
nobility and strength, calling upon the power and nourishment of the sun while
firmly planting the feet upon the earth. Vira means “hero” and bhadra means “auspicious,”
so virabhadrasana means “heroic auspicious posture.” Wow! Didn’t you always
want to be part yogi and part Conan?
We demonstrate three different versions of virabhadrasana here: warrior 1, warrior 2,
and warrior 3.
The first warrior pose aids in deep breathing, relieves a stiff neck and shoulders,
strengthens the legs, and trims the hips.
Be sure to exhale as you go into the warrior pose, and inhale as you go out of the
pose. Think “strength” instead of “tense.” Be careful to relax your muscles while in
the warrior pose. Keep your face and neck relaxed. Breathe normally. Feel the warrior
strength gathering inside you. Strength doesn’t come from muscle contraction.
Strength comes from the mind.
- Stand with your feet three to four feet apart. Turn your right foot out, and turn
your left foot so that it is facing slightly toward the right foot.
- Bend your left leg into or close to a right angle and rotate your body to the
right, directly in line with the left leg.
- Raise both arms over your head with your palms facing each other. Look straight
ahead or upward at your hands. If your shoulders are relaxed, bring your palms
together. For those of us with tight shoulders, it’s best to keep the hands apart,
which will help the shoulders stay down away from the ears.
- Keep your back foot firmly planted and your back leg straight. Push down on
your back heel. Take three rich, full breaths.
- Remember that lift of your arches in mountain pose? Notice what happens
when you apply that technique here. Lift the toes of the back foot. Watch the
arch slightly lift. Slowly place your toes back on the ground while maintaining
the lift in the arch. As the toes touch the ground, let the lift of the arch ascend
throughout the rest of your body. Breathe.
- Return to the starting position and repeat on the other side.
- Yoga Adventure: Bring your palms together and interlace your fingers over your
head, while keeping your index fingers pointed straight up. Keep your shoulders
down, away from your ears. Look up at your hands while keeping your neck
strong. Imagine strength and energy shooting out of the tips of your index fingers.
This variation intensifies the strength and energy of the warrior 1 pose.
The second warrior pose has the same benefits as the first, but it also strengthens and
shapes the legs, relieves leg cramps, brings flexibility to the legs and back, tones the
abdomen, and strengthens the ankles and arms.
- Begin as for the warrior 1 pose, but keep your upper body facing forward as you
bend your left leg into or close to a right angle with the floor.
- Lift both arms straight out to form a “T” shape with your body. Look toward
your left arm. Keep your shoulders down.
- Hold the pose for at least a few breaths, return to the starting position, then repeat
on the other side.
- Yoga Adventure: Combining warrior 1 and warrior 2 into vinyasa, or a flowing
sequence, is a great way to get your heart pumping and to energize your body
and mind for a challenging day. Begin in the mountain pose, then flow into
warrior 1 according to the earlier instructions, then rotate your torso and bring
your arms down into the warrior 2 position, then flow back into the mountain.
Repeat as many times as you like. Once you’ve combined these two, add warrior
3 and the lightning bolt pose to the sequence, flowing from warrior 1 to warrior
2 to warrior 3 to lightning bolt back to tadasana, then starting all over again.
What a way to wake yourself up in the morning! Keep the movements flowing
and full of energy. This warrior vinyasa is a real confidence builder.
The warrior 3 position develops the strength and shape of your legs and abdomen; it
also gives you agility, poise, better concentration, and improved balance. It is a more
difficult pose than the first two warrior poses. Be sure to exhale going into all the
warrior poses, and inhale coming out.