Lots of Yoga

Virabhadrasana: A Closer Look at the 5 Mighty Warrior Poses

Warrior Pose is a beloved staple of the yoga practice. Here we look at the 5 wonderful warrior poses and how you can get the best out of them. 

Virabhadrasana - there is none more powerful in yoga than the mighty Warrior Pose! Warrior is a staple pose for almost every yogi, and we take a good look at these five wonderful and majestic variations.

The Warrior Poses

The most common and recognised Poses are: -

  • Warrior I (Virabhadrasana I)
  • Warrior II (Virabhadrasana II)
  • Warrior III (Virabhadrasana III).

Then we have these two extra Warrior poses which are sometimes referred to as Warrior 4 and Warrior 5. As they are not traditional yoga poses but rather newer hybrid versions of the originals, they do not have traditional Sanskrit names but are recognised by many names: -

  • Humble Warrior (also known as Devotional or Bound Warrior, or Baddha Virabhadrasana)
  • Reverse Warrior (also known as Crescent Pose, Proud Warrior or Viparita Virabhadrasana).

We look into each of these Warrior yoga poses, how to do them, their benefits and even some variations to try.

1. Warrior I (Virabhadrasana I)

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The first in our series is Warrior I and is also included in Sun Salutation B (Surya Namaskara B).

Benefits of Warrior 1

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The benefits of the Virabhadrasana 1 are vast, and include:

  • Stretching the shoulders, back, chest, neck, abs, and groin
  • Strengthening the shoulders, arms, back, and all of the leg.

How to do Warrior I

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  1. Standing in Tadasana (Mountain Pose), take a big step back with the right leg. The front left foot should be facing forward, and the back right foot should be facing outwards at a 45-degree angle.
  2. Bend the front knee so that it's directly positioned over the ankle.
  3. With the hips facing forwards, raise the arms above the head and gaze in between them, keeping the shoulders rolled down and back away from the ears.
  4. After 5 breaths, step the back left foot forwards and return to Tadasana. Repeat on the other leg.

Pro tip: To keep the hips facing forwards, imagine that your hips are a car with headlights and you want to shine the lights directly down the road in front of you. Whilst doing this, make sure that the knee is still directly over the ankle and not splayed out to the left or right, or over or under-extended.

Warrior I Modifications

Try these modifications of Virabhadrasana I if you feel that you need a little something to get it just right.

Raise the back leg off the ground

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Keep the hands to the chest

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Put the back knee on the floor

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2. Warrior II (Virabhadrasana II)

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The second Virabhadrasana is similar to the first, but with a slight change of torso and arm positioning.

Benefits of Warrior 2

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Virabhadrasana II's benefits are:

  • It stretches the legs, ankles, psoas muscle, chest, shoulders
  • It strengthens the arms and legs
  • It helps alleviate back pain.

How to do Warrior II

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  1. Standing in Tadasana, take a big step back with the right leg. The front left foot should be facing forward, and the back right foot should be facing outwards at a 45-degree angle.
  2. Bend the front knee so that it's directly positioned over the ankle.
  3. Raise the arms out horizontally to the floor so that the front right arm is facing forwards directly above the front right leg, and the back left arm is facing back directly above the back left leg, keeping the gaze to the front right hand.
  4. Keep the shoulders rolled down and back away from the ears.
  5. After 5 breaths, step the back left foot forwards and return to Tadasana. Repeat on the other leg, with the left arm facing forwards this time.

Pro tip: To make sure that the upper arms are correctly positioned, spread the arms out and turn the palms to face the sky rotating the whole arm upwards. Then slowly, turn only the palms down to face the floor.

Warrior II Modifications

Here are some modifications of Warrior II to help better get the hang of it.

Keep the back knee to the floor

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Rest your arms on something

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Partner up

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3. Warrior III (Virabhadrasana III)

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The third Warrior is a completely different kettle of fish from the first two, and is actually even classed as a balancing pose.

Benefits of Warrior 3

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The benefits of Warrior III include:

  • Strengthening of the legs, shoulders and back
  • Improving balance
  • Is a great ab workout.

How to do Warrior III

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  1. Starting in Tadasana, start to fold forwards at the hips, avoiding arching the back, raising the arms out straight in front of you and raising the right leg out behind you.
  2. Keep folding forwards till your outstretched arms and leg are parallel to the ground, keeping the hips facing the floor.
  3. After 5 breaths, start standing up straight, and step the back right leg next to the left, returning to Tadasana. Repeat on the other leg.

Pro tip: Since Warrior III is a balancing pose, to help keep your balance, the Drishti (focal point/gaze) is imperative. Choose a spot in front of you and keep your gaze on it at all times throughout the pose to maximise balance.

Warrior III Modifications

Warrior 3 comes with it's difficulties but here are four great modifications for you to try to get the best out of your Warrior III.

Change your angle!

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Bend the knee

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Use a friend

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Lean on something

Warrior 3 B

4. Reverse Warrior (Crescent Pose/Proud Warrior)

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Reverse Warrior is essentially a play on Warrior 1, but with a much deeper arch in the back.

Benefits of Reverse Warrior

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The benefits of practising Reverse Warrior are:

  • Strengthening of the legs, back and abs
  • A great stretch of the torso, arms and back
  • It helps balance.

How to do Reverse Warrior

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  1. Standing in Tadasana, take a big step back with the right leg. The front left foot should be facing forward, and the back right foot should be facing outwards at a 45-degree angle.
  2. Bend the front knee so that it's directly positioned over the ankle.
  3. With the hips facing forwards, raise the left arm above the head with the palm facing behind you and place the right hand on the right thigh and slide it down as far as it will go.
  4. Keeping the shoulders rolled down and back away from the ears, bend backwards and keep the gaze on the top hand.
  5. After 5 breaths, step the back left foot forwards and return to Tadasana. Repeat on the other leg, alternating the arms.

Pro tip: You'll need strong abs to lift your body back up from the Reverse Warrior backbend, but you can also use the hand that is resting on the back leg to push yourself up (let's call it a little, totally acceptable, cheat).

Reverse Warrior Modifications

Check out some of our favourite modifications to Reverse Warrior.

Look elsewhere to alleviate pressure to the neck

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Bind it up

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Keep the back knee on the floor

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5. Humble Warrior (Devotional Warrior/Bound Warrior)

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Contrary to it's lowly name, Humble Warrior actually proves to be the hardest Warrior for some, but we still love it.

Benefits of Humble Warrior

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Here are a few of the benefits of Humble Warrior:

  • Opening of the hips and shoulders
  • Strengthening of the shoulders and legs
  • It's a great shoulder stretch.

How to do Humble Warrior

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  1. Starting from Tadasana, take a big step back with the right leg. The front left foot should be facing forward, and the back right foot should be facing outwards at a 45-degree angle.
  2. Bend the front knee so that it's directly positioned over the ankle.
  3. With the hips facing forwards, roll the shoulders back and down and clasp the hands behind the back in a fist.
  4. Slightly rotate the torso away from the front leg, and start folding forward from the waist till the head is on the inside of the knee and the arms raised up towards the sky as far as they will go.
  5. After 5 breaths, lift the torso up, step the back left foot forwards and return to Tadasana. Repeat on the other leg.

Pro tip: Practice opening up the hips with Lizard pose first so that with time it becomes easier bringing the torso and head to the inside of the bended knee in this pose.

Humble Warrior Modifications

We're loving these modifications to Humble Warrior.

No need to go all the way down

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Rest the head on the floor

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Lean on the floor like a lizard

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Warrior Pose Variations

We love these Warrior pose variations from the beautiful Instagram yoga community.

Hands behind the back

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Leg raised reverse warrior

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Humble variation

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Insane bind

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Reverse Bind

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Reverse Namaste

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Dharma wheeling it

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Limbo Warrior

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Warrior pose variations

Do you love Warrior Pose as much as we do? Do you have any variations/modifications you'd like to suggest? We'd love to hear from you!

 

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