Virabhadra = the name of a fierce warrior
Ah, Warrior II…what’s not to love about this pose?
It is perhaps one of the most practiced poses in modern yoga. You can walk in to any random class, and the chances are very high that the instructor will lead you through at least one round of Warrior II. And for good reason.
This pose oozes strength, focus and power. And what athlete wouldn’t love that?
From a strong Mountain pose, step the left leg back three to four feet (about a leg’s length). Turn the left foot out so the outer edge of the foot is parallel to the back edge of the mat. The foot can be turned inward slightly, and you can play around with foot stance, but be sure that the back foot is firmly planted into the mat from the ball of the foot to the heel.
The back leg is strong, kneecap lifted. The front leg is bent.
Begin to lower the hips straight down, finding a point of challenge that you can sustain with your breath.
The arms stretch out strongly. Shoulders roll back and down, away from the ears. Shoulder blades move in closer together.
Take the gaze over the front hand.
Tuck the tailbone under and draw the belly in. Begin to lengthen the spine.
As you breathe, sink the hips on the exhale, and lengthen the spine on the inhale.
Hold for at least five breaths. Repeat on the other side.
Benefits for Athletes
- Opens hips
- Opens shoulders
- Strengthens legs
- Strengthens arms
- Strengthens abdominals
- Strengthens ankles and feet
- Increases stamina
Common Misalignments & Tips to Keep Good Form
Warrior II is a strong pose, but it’s easy to fall out of alignment in the pose without knowing it. That’s why it is so important to keep the focus strong and the breath going while practicing this pose.
- Front knee moves out of alignment. As you sink into the pose, maintain a watchful eye on that front knee so it stays in line with the ankle moving toward the middle toes. It has a tendency to creep inward. Draw the front thigh up and out to stay strong.
- Spine is at an angle, not straight up and down. Remember that the shoulders should be stacked directly over the ribs, and the ribs stacked over the hips. To check this alignment, place your hands on your hips, find the hip bones and straighten your spine straight up. As the arms reach to either side, sink the hips straight down, not forward.
- Pelvis tilts forward. Tuck the tailbone under, and draw the pelvic floor up, engaging the lower abdominals.
- Shoulders tense. Warrior II can be a workout for the shoulders. Keep the arms strong, feeling the triceps engage. Roll the shoulders back and down and relax them. Breathe.
- Back leg bends. Keep that back leg working, pressing firmly into the ground with the full back foot. Lift the back kneecap to engage the thigh. Lift the arch of the back foot and press into the heel.
There’s a lot to think about in Warrior II, and the body is working hard for you. Remember to keep the breath steady and strong to infuse this pose with energy. If the muscles tire, the breath can take over and keep you strong and focused.