Build strength in your legs and arms by firing up your inner warrior.
Warrior I Pose (Virabhadrasana) Step-By-Step Instructions
Start by setting an intention before you dive into practicing the pose, or set a goal.
Next, grab your mat and prepare yourself by breathing. Focus on your breathing for a few seconds.
Stand in Tadasana (Mountain Pose) and lightly pull your feet apart and raise your arms perpendicular to the floor while you exhale.
Turn your left foot to the right by 60 degrees and your right foot to the right by 90 degrees to align your right heel with your left heel.
Following this, rotate your torso to the right. While your left hip turns forward, lengthen your tailbone. Make sure your back and torso are slightly arched.
Check how anchored your heels are to the floor. Make sure you do not have any issues with your balance, and exhale as you bend your right knee over your right ankle.
Your ankles should be perpendicular to the mat. If you are a more advanced Yoga practitioner, you can try alighting your right thigh parallel to the floor.
Lift your ribcage slowly from your lower abdomen area while holding your arms up as if you were reaching for something.
Balance your body by grounding your back foot in the floor. This will make you feel your muscles working from the back of your legs to your chest and arms.
If you feel that you are well grounded on the mat, bring your palms together while keeping your head forward, or look at your palms.
Hold the pose for 30 seconds to 60 seconds. Release by inhaling and pressing your back heel into the floor while stretching your arms and strengthening your knees.
Bring your arms down while exhaling, but you can also keep them up if you would like the pose to be more challenging.
When you complete the movement, return to the Mountain Pose.
Different Approaches to Warrior I
The Warrior I pose has a beautiful yet tragic story behind it, and its variations are based on the different approaches to the moral of the story.
The story begins with the marriage between Sati, the daughter of a powerful king, and Shiva, the god of universal consciousness.
Sati fell in love Shiva and married him, but her father was not happy with the marriage. In an attempt to defy Shiva, the father organized a huge party and invited everyone but his son in law.
While Shiva was unfazed by the behavior of his father in law, his wife ended up committing suicide by throwing herself into a fire. Saddened by the death of his wife, Shiva blames Sati’s father and sends assassins to have him decapitated.
The Warrior I pose is not about fighting with others. Rather, it is about fighting our own blindness and ignorance. Due to the blindness of Sati’s father as well as Shiva’s, many people died in the process.
I have made a short list of modifications to the Warrior I pose.
Start by standing in Tadasana (Mountain Pose), and move your legs apart from each other while extending your arms to the side, forming a T.
Turn your upper arms outwards. Keep your palms raised, and lift your torso while your shoulder blades help your chest stay engaged.
You can either keep your arms straight or join them together.
Turn the right foot, drawing a 90 degree angle while turning the other one inward. Take a deep breath and turn your upper body part towards your right leg and keep your gaze up.
Ashtanga is a Yoga style, and the Warrior I is one of its defining poses in the sun salutations. It is all about the flow of the movements. You will not have time to think much about your posture or how engaged your muscles are.
This Yoga style helps many Yoga practitioners get used to holding the poses since imperfections are allowed. In Ashtanga practice, there are a series of poses that repeat themselves, including the Warrior I.
Depending on what you want to achieve with your pose and your fitness level, you can make certain modifications during Ashtanga too.
A Modified Version for Beginners
If you cannot hold the pose due to a bad day or something that is affecting your balance, you can always face a wall.
Stand facing a wall that is in arm’s distance or ask the help of a friend to stay near you in case you lose your balance.
The Benefits of Warrior I Pose
This pose can be quite challenging. However, it comes with many physical benefits. It builds lean mass and strength in your feet and core, and it also improves your mobility.
The pose can also help with with your posture since it forces your torso to remain straight.
When it comes to the mental benefits of the pose, body awareness is among the most important because it makes us understand how complex our movements are and improves our body-mind connection.
The emotional benefits linked to the pose are related to the root chakra, the energetic point that deals with our emotional stability.
This asana can help you gain confidence by opening your chest and challenging your posture as well as your lower body.
To help you get a better idea of what the benefits look like, I put together a short list of benefits that regular practice of the Warrior I pose brings to the table:
- Works all the major groups in your body and increases strength
- Improves posture
- Increases mobility
- Builds lean mass
- Increases body awareness
- Relieves anxiety and stress
- Can lead to weight loss
- Improves digestion
What Muscle Groups Warrior I Impacts
This pose impacts all the major group muscles in your body, including your leg muscles, core muscles, and even your arms.
This pose can be considered as a complete strengthening workout. But if you are using the pose in Yoga sessions that focus more on the flow between poses than on perfecting the posture of one pose, you might not get the most out of it.
Try to perfect your posture at home with each new pose you are learning individually to avoid injuries and maximize your strength gains.
After you perfected the pose, you can include it in Yoga sessions that focus on the flow of the movements.
When You Should Use the Warrior I and Its Link to the Root Chakra
The Warrior I is not a pose for beginners, though some newer folks can do it if they have enough strength in their arms, legs, and core.
The pose is meant to help fight your inner ignorance and build strength in your body, but it also stimulates the root chakra in the process.
There are a few signs that your body gives to you when your root chakra is weak. This could include any diseases that are linked to your lower body, and it also includes blood-related illnesses, such as a low white blood cell count.
The root chakra influences our body in two ways: physically and emotionally.
If you see yourself as someone who gets what he/she wants and always makes plans to climb the ladder while remaining unfazed by hard decisions, you probably have a strong root chakra.
The root chakra keeps us grounded. Therefore, when it is weak, we are insecure and find it hard to make the first decision. We are mostly dreamers than doers, simply because we do not have the energy or drive to chase after our dreams.
It can also impact our health, specifically the health of your digestive system, and it could make us more susceptible to bone and blood diseases.
The Warrior I pose helps improve the flow of chakra in your body and works to fix issues linked to a weak root chakra.
I put together a short list of signs that can indicate you are suffering from a weak chakra:
- Financial issues and instability
- Feeling insecure
- Blood, bone, or digestive issues
- Lack of motivation
If you are experiencing any of these “symptoms,” you may benefit from the Warrior I pose as well as from other poses that focus on your root chakra.
Alternate Nostril Breathing (Nadi Shodhana Pranayama)
This breathing technique is well-known for its calming effects over the human body in stressful situations.
Because the Warrior I pose is recommended to Yoga practitioners who both want to build lean mass and become more grounded emotionally while fighting off their insecurities and fears, the alternate nostril breathing could be the perfect addition to the pose.
Alternate nostril breathing, or Nadi Shodhana Pranayama, means “subtle energy clearing breathing technique.”
The breathing technique cannot be used while holding the Warrior I pose, but it can be a good way to get started by relaxing your body.
First, stand on your mat with your legs crossed, or take a seat on a chair holding your back straight and your chest area open.
Next, place your left palm into your lap facing the the sky and bring your right palm to nose level.
Use your right hand to gently massage the space between your eyebrows. Make sure you use your thumb and ring finger in the process.
Close your eyes and take a deep breath. Next, put some pressure on your right nostril to stop the air passing through, and use only your left nostril to breath without trying to compensate for the blocked nostril.
Then switch to your left nostril and block the air by using your ring or thumb finger.
After a few cycles, hold both nostrils blocked for a few seconds and release with a few inhales and exhales.
Consistency is key. Make sure you include alternate nostril breathing in your daily routine to get the most out of it. Also, do not try to hold your breath for too long since it can do more damage than good.
Aim for 5 to 10 seconds to get the best results, and try doing it at least three times per week.
Although the Warrior pose does have some modifications that can make it easier to handle, it is usually not recommended for people who are just getting started with Yoga because their bodies must first get used to gentler asanas.
That being said, there are a few contraindications even for Yoga practitioners who have a good balance and hold the pose properly. These include the following:
- Heart problems and hypertensions
- Low blood pressure
- Hearing issues
- Stiff neck
- Ankle injuries
Also, you should not try this pose right after you had a rich meal or after having acidulated beverages.
Did you benefit from this article? Did I miss anything? Any feedback or suggestions would be appreciated – please post in the comments and I will personally respond!
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