Trying to listen to all of the alignment cues that are given in a yoga class and understanding how to put your body into the right position can be overwhelming - especially if you’re completely new to the practice and are just trying to breathe and not fall over! That’s why every month I will break down a pose, show you how to get into it safely, highlight its benefits and offer one or two top tips. This week’s pose: Warrior II (also known in Sanskrit as Virabhadrasana II)
Establishing the Foundation of the Pose
- Standing in the middle of your mat facing sideways step or bend the knees slightly and lightly jump feet wide apart
- Raise your arms out to the side at shoulder level, parallel to the floor, palms facing down
- Lift your right foot to balance on your heel and externally rotating from your upper thigh, turn your right foot out to the right
- Turn your left foot inwards slightly
- Align the right heel with the arch of the left foot.
Moving into the Pose
- Maintaining a long upright spine, hips facing forward and tailbone lengthening down, exhale and bend your right knee over the right ankle, so that the shin is perpendicular to the floor.
- Make sure the bent knee is stacked directly over the ankle. This protects the knee joint.
- Aim the right knee towards the middle toe of the right foot to prevent the knee collapsing inwards. This encourages length and strength in the inner thigh
- Strengthen the left leg by pressing the outer left heel and side of the foot firmly to the floor
- Keeping the arms parallel to the floor, stretch them away from each other, opening the space between the shoulder blades
- Work on keeping both sides of the torso equally long with shoulders directly over the pelvis. Try not to lean the torso over the right thigh.
- Aim to lift the upper body from the right hip up and away from the right thigh while sinking lower into the right thigh
- Turn the head to the right and gaze out over the fingertips.
Maintaining the Pose
- Press strongly through both feet
- Lengthening your tailbone down and engaging your core muscles, keep the sides of the torso equally long and the shoulders directly over the pelvis
- To increase the length and strength of the arms in the pose, turn the palms and inner elbow creases to face the ceiling while you draw the shoulder blades down the back. Then maintaining the rotation of the arms, turn the palms from the wrists to face the floor again
- Keep length through the neck
- Remember to keep breathing and hold the pose for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
Completing the Pose
- Exhale and straighten the right leg to bring yourself to an upright position
- Reverse your feet and repeat on the opposite side
- When both sides are completed, placing your hands on your hips, heel/toe or step or bend your knees and lightly jump your feet back together to the centre of your mat.
Benefits of the Pose
- Strengthens ankles
- Strengthens and stretches the legs
- Stretches the groins, shoulders, chest and lungs
- Increases stamina
Don’t do it if…
- You are currently experiencing high blood pressure
- You experience neck problems, don’t turn your head to look over the front hand. An alternative option is to continue looking straight ahead with both sides of the neck lengthened evenly