Warrior Pose Yoga: How to do and Benefits

Warrior Pose Yoga How to do and Benefits

Warrior Pose I (known as Virabhadrasana I in sandscript) is a foundational yoga pose that is commonly used in many yoga practices. It is a standing pose that targets the whole body and builds physical and mental strength and flexibility.

The pose is energizing and strengthening and is therefore categorized as a power pose. The deep lunge and upright body and arms are thought of as heroic and victorious, making this posture a favorite with yoga lovers the world over.

Warrior I is not considered a particularly advanced pose, but as with all simple things there is little room for error. Alignment, spacing, grounding, balance and weight placement are all crucial if you want to feel the full benefits of the posture. 

There are many developments of the Warrior Pose, most notably Warrior II and Warrior III. These increase the stretching and strengthening elements of the original pose.

Humble Warrior (Baddha Virabhadrasana) and Reverse Warrior (Viparita Virabhadrasana) are also popular and commonly seen developments of the Warrior pose.

Why Is It Called ‘Warrior Pose’?

Warrior Pose may seem a surprising name for a yoga position, especially as yogis are famous for their passivity and non-violence. However, the reference to the ‘warrior’ relates to the battle against the universal enemy that is ‘self ignorance’ and it can be applied to any internal demons and conflicts that you experience within yourself.

Because the pose uses the whole of the body, and asks you to stretch the body in opposing alignments, the feeling of opposition is central to the posture and its deeper meaning.

When you take up this pose and hold it, you demonstrate determination and strength in the fight to be a better and more content version of yourself. 

What Are The Benefits Of Warrior Pose?

The physical benefits of this power posture include:

  • Stretching the ankles and calves
  • Stretching and expanding the chest, lungs, shoulders and neck
  • Stretching the belly, waist and groin
  • Strengthening the quadriceps and back muscles
  • Lengthening the psoas
  • Stretching the upper body and arms
  • Improving balance

The mental benefits of Warrior I include:

  • Increasing energy levels
  • Awakening the senses
  • Strengthening mental focus and stamina
  • Increasing mental determination
  • Encouraging feelings of positivity and self confidence

Warrior Pose 1 (Virabhadrasana I) – Step By Step Guide

Warrior Pose 1 (Virabhadrasana I) - Step By Step Guide

Step 1: Begin in Downward-Facing Dog. Then step your right foot forward so that the toes are in line with your fingertips on the mat. Shift your foot slightly to the right so that it is no longer dead center.

Step 2: Now, bend your right knee so that it is at a 90 degree angle. You will be able to tell that you have reached the right alignment because your thigh should be parallel to the floor. Make sure that your knee is stacked directly over your ankle and that your right hip is pinned back, not twisting forwards.

Step 3: Next, pivot your back heel so that you place it at a 45 degree angle on the mat. You can shuffle the back heel to align with your front heel, or keep a wider stance if you want greater stability.

Step 4: Now you can straighten this back leg so that the left knee is completely straight and strong.

Step 5: Take a deep inhale and lift your torso up, raising your arms above your head at shoulder width apart. Keep your elbows straight (but not locked) and turn your palms to face each other. Draw your shoulder blades up and out so that they feel as though they are spreading towards your armpits, and lengthen through the spine. If you wish, you can also press your palms together above your head and lift your gaze to look at them.

Step 6: As you hold this pose, gently engage your core and draw your belly up and in so that it lifts away from your front thigh. At the same time, press your back leg firmly into the ground and create a sense of space and distance between your back heel and the crown of your head.

Step 7: Hold the pose for 5 – 10 controlled breaths

Step 8: Return your hands to the floor, keeping your fingertips aligned with your right toes. Step the right food back to return to Downward-Facing Dog. Then repeat everything on the other side.

Tips For Beginners

  • If you are first learning the Warrior Pose it is common to allow your pelvis to twist towards your front leg, however this creates an unbalanced alignment. Instead, try to press your back foot firmly into the ground in order to drive the left hip forwards. This will increase the stretch in your groin area and align your hips to create a strong and powerful posture.
  • If you are not yet able to hold the posture with your front knee bent to 90 degrees, try bringing your back foot in closer to your front foot so that your knee is at a less acute angle. As long as there is a gentle bend in the front knee, and no bend in the back knee, you will still feel the benefits of the warrior pose. A shorter and more shallow posture requires less flexibility and strength, and you can slowly build up to a deeper posture as you advance in your yoga practice.
  • Beginners often find it difficult to hold their balance when pressing their palms together over their head and lifting their gaze towards their thumbs. If you are wobbling or do not feel confident with this step yet, simply leave your hands shoulder width apart with the palms facing but not touching, and your eye line forward. As you grow in strength and confidence you will be able to join your hands and lift your gaze.

Tips For Teachers

  • Warrior pose is a great posture to use in morning classes as it is highly invigorating and will set your students up for a great day. If you don’t teach morning classes, it is good to put this pose in the first half of your class as it helps to get the blood and energy circulating around the body.
  • It is always helpful to place your flat palm on your students shoulder blades to guide them down and out towards the armpits. It can be tricky for beginners to envisage this placement, so many of them will perhaps have raised shoulders and clamped shoulder blades. Placing your palm there will allow them to locate the muscles and release them.
Laura Simmons