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Your Essential Guide to Warrior I, II & III

Your Essential Guide to Warrior I, II & III

The Warrior poses are strong standing asanas that build the body and mind into strength and confidence. From straight hips, to a wide stance, to a challenging balance the Warriors are suited to practitioners of any level, cultivating strong body awareness. The Sanskrit name for Warrior is Virabhadrasana. In Sanskrit the word ‘Vira’ is translated as ‘hero’ and the word ‘bhandra’ is ‘friend’. The name also relates to Hindu mythology where Virabhandra is a powerful warrior incarnation of Shiva. According to legend Virabhandra was sent to destroy Daksha the son of Brahma. The story tells of Daksha opposing the marriage of his daughter Sati to Shiva. The tale ends with Sati killing herself and Shiva creating Virabhadra to seek revenge.

Below are three popular postures, which comprise the Warrior sequence. They are either called I, II and III or A, B and C. Read on as we break down each variation, even better, grab your mat and try them all!

 

Warrior I/ Virabhadrasana A

How to

  • Step your left leg back and a bit to the left so back heel can come down, turn your back foot in between 90 and 45 degrees

  • Press into the outer edge of your back foot and firm the back leg

  • Square your hips to the front of the mat

  • Bend your front knee over the ankle

  • Keep length in your lower back, lift your chest

  • Either hands to your hips or arms above your head

  • Option to lift your gaze to the ceiling

  • Hold for five deep breaths

  • To release the posture take your hands to your hips, gaze forward, step to the front of your mat

  • Repeat on the opposite side

 

Physical Benefits

Warrior I strengthens the feet, ankles, quadriceps and gluteus. The challenge is to keep the core engaged while rotating the back thigh inward. On top of this, when Warrior I is practiced the hips, shoulders and sides of the body are opened.

 

Mental Benefits 

Warrior I is a fantastic posture to learn body awareness. With a lot of challenging alignment including keeping the back foot planted, lengthening the lower back and keeping the hips square, it is perfect for discovering where you are in space. As you become comfortable practicing Warrior I perhaps you are able to slowly scan awareness through your body and refine your body alignment and smooth breath.

 

Emotional Benefits 

When your chest is properly lifting in Warrior I and your lower back is staying long the posture becomes an incredible heart opener. Postures that open the chest are said to improve the function of the heart chakra, called Anahata. Anahata chakra is responsible for our feelings of joy, compassion, generosity and love.

 

Warrior II/ Virabhadrasana B

Warrior II Yoga 

How to

  • Step your left foot back much further than Warrior I, turn the foot onto an angle between 90 and 45 degrees. Your back ankle, knee and hip should be in one line and your front heel in line with the inner arch of your back foot.

  • Face your right hip toward the left side of your mat

  • Bend your front knee so it is directly over your ankle, make sure it does not fall to one side

  • Extend your arms, gaze over your right fingertips

  • Hold for five deep breaths

  • To release the posture take your hands to your hips, gaze forward, step to the front of your mat

  • Repeat on the opposite side

 

Physical Benefits

Like Warrior I, Warrior II also creates and builds strength through the lower body. However Warrior II has a different hip and foot position to Warrior I so the hips are further opened while the shoulders and chest are still broadened. If held for a longer time the posture can build endurance as the stance is wide and the spinal position is comfortable for most.

 

Mental Benefits

The endurance built on a physical level in Warrior II can translate to mental stamina and concentration. Also, the posture allows us to find a balance between effort and ease as the legs are powerfully engaged while the upper body is free. It can be a great challenge to release excess tension across the neck and shoulders while keeping the integrity and strength of the lower body.

 

Emotional Benefits

Due to the strong engagement through the feet and legs in Warrior II, this posture can help with a feeling of grounding and safety. This grounding can translate into an opening of the root chakra; Muladhara. Muladhara chakra relates to feelings of security and being worry free. A strong and open root chakra sets a solid foundation for opening the higher chakras of the subtle body.

 

Warrior III/ Virabhadrasana C

 

Warrior III Yoga 

How to:

  • Stand in Tadasana with the feet together and palms in front of the chest

  • Bend your right leg slightly and place your left toe on the floor a little bit behind you

  • Simultaneously move your chest forward towards parallel and lift your left leg towards parallel

  • Spread the left toes and press through the ball of foot to firm your leg

  • Keep your hips square to the floor

  • If you feel balanced reach the arms out in front

  • Hold for five deep breaths

  • To release the posture slowly touch your toe down, lift your chest and step back to the front of your mat

  • Repeat on the opposite side

 

Physical Benefits

In Warrior III all the weight is in one leg, therefore strengthening all the muscles of the standing leg. Also, because the upper body is horizontal the muscles around the spine and the deep core are engaged. Keeping the hips square to the floor in this posture is extra tricky but when mastered the core and abdomen become fully engaged.

 

Mental Benefits

The challenge of balancing on one leg while the upper body is horizontal creates mental focus and the ability to stay calm in stressful situations. It can be extremely difficult and frustrating to keep strong, stable and focused in this challenging Asana.

 

Emotional Benefits

On a wobbly day this posture can bring up feelings of hopelessness and wanting to quit. However, this can translate into commitment to an intention even during a difficult time and when steadiness is found a wonderful feeling of soring accomplishment may be experienced. Warrior III also works on the third-eye chakra, called Anja. Ajna chakra relates to wisdom, intuition and creativity.

 

2,100 asanas

Want to explore the Warrior poses more, plus delve deeper into your Asana practice? This book 2,100 Asanas is a must have for practitioners of all levels. Get it here.

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