How to – Virabhadrasana, Warrior Pose
As one of the fearsome forms of Hindu god Shiva, Virabhadra was a fierce warrior. He is described as having a thousand heads, a thousand eyes and a thousand feet, wielding a thousand clubs and wearing a tiger’s skin. Virabhadrasana, Warrior Pose, commemorates this spiritual warrior whom many gods fled from, unable to sustain his power. In Warrior Pose we courageously battle our self-ignorance, avidya, the universal enemy and source of all our suffering.
Warrior Pose has three different variations: Warrior I, Warrior II and Warrior III. Each pose has many wonderful benefits for stretching and strengthening your muscles. They can improve balance; strengthen the shoulders, back, and legs; tone the abdomen; improve circulation and can energize the whole body.
To achieve Warrior I, begin in Tadasana, Mountain Pose. On an exhale, step your feet about 3 ½ to 4 feet apart, with your forward knee directly over the ankle while squaring your hips with the front edge of your mat. Keep your heels in line and grounded down through the ground. Raise your arms parallel to each other and perpendicular to the floor then up into an H position over your head, palms facing each other.
Relax your shoulders and lift your chest.
To achieve a deeper position, bring your palms together and carefully arch your back as you look up at the ceiling. Inhale deeply into your chest and abdomen. Press into your feet. Continue to breath and hold for about 30 seconds to a minute.
To release, inhale and press back into your back heel, reach up through your arms and straighten the forward knee. Turn your feet and repeat on the other side of your body. From here you can either return to Tadasana or move into Warrior III pose.
Warrior II is actually a great beginning pose for Warrior I. Beginning at Tadasana, exhale and step your feet about 3 ½ to 4 feet apart. Raise your arms out parallel to the floor, your shoulder blades wide with your palms down.
Turn your forward foot slightly out with your back foot at a 90-degree angle (if you stepped forward with your right foot it should be turned to the right slightly with your left foot out at 90 degrees). Keep your heels in line and don’t lean your torso over your bent knee, keep it centered with your shoulders directly over your pelvis. Turn your head forward, looking out over your fingers.
From here you can move into Warrior I or Reverse Warrior. To achieve Reverse Warrior, Viparita Virabhadrasana, (with the right knee bent) bring your left hand down to rest on your left leg. Inhale and raise your right arm up towards the sky, reaching your fingers away from each other as your look up towards your raised hand or straight ahead. Sink your hips down toward the ground, relaxing your shoulders.
To release, inhale your arms back to the starting parallel position of Warrior II. Repeat on your other side.
To achieve Warrior III from Mountain Pose, exhale and shift all of your weight onto your left leg while interlacing your fingers at your chest. Lift your right leg up and back as you bend forward at your hips.
As you continue to straighten your leg parallel to the ground, raise your arms forward and out also parallel to the ground.
Keep your arms and lifted leg in line as much as possible. Look down at the floor as you reach out through your right toes and your fingers. Breathe and hold for 30 seconds to a minute.
To release, inhale your arms up as you bring your right leg forward.
End in Mountain Pose.
Remember to repeat for your left leg.