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 break down a pose, show you how to get into it safely, highlight its benefits and offer one or two top tips. Continuing with the Warrior series, this month's pose is Warrior I also known in Sanskrit as Virabhadrasana I.

Establishing the Foundation of the PoseEstablishing the Foundation of the Pose

  1. Standing in the middle of your mat facing sideways step or bend the knees slightly and lightly jump feet wide apart
  2. Lift your right foot to balance on your heel and externally rotating from your upper thigh, turn your right foot out to the right
  3. Turn your left foot inwards slightly
  4. Align the right heel with the arch of the left foot
  5. Turn your torso to the right, encouraging the right hip back and the left hip forwards
  6. Become aware of your left knee – if you feel a twist in it, relax your left hip back a little
  7. If you find you’re a little off balance, step your right foot to the right a little to widen the stance
  8. Ground into the left heel and keep that left leg strong and straight
  9. Raise your arms perpendicular to the floor, parallel to each other and in line with your ears
  10. Reach actively towards the sky while drawing your shoulder blades down and firming them against your back
  11. If your shoulders feel tight, widen your arms a little to free up this space

Moving into the poseMoving into the Pose

  1. Making sure the left heel is firmly anchored to the mat, exhale and bend your right knee over the right ankle, so that the shin is perpendicular to the floor
  2. Keep the bent knee stacked directly over the ankle and aim it towards the middle toe of the right foot to prevent the knee collapsing inwards
  3. Strengthen the left leg by pressing the outer left heel and side of the foot firmly to the floor
  4. At this point, there is a tendency to overarch the ribcage, tilt the pelvis forwards and compress the lower back.
  5. Counter act this by lengthening the tailbone downwards and tilting the front of the pelvis upwards

Maintaining the PoseMaintaining the Pose

  1. Press strongly through both feet
  2. Reach actively through the arms lifting the ribcage away from the pelvis whilst engaging your core muscles to protect the lower back
  3. If possible, bring the palms together and reach a little higher through the little finger side of the hands
  4. Gaze forwards or tilt the head back a little to look at the hands, keeping the back of the neck long
  5. Remember to keep breathing and hold the pose for 30 seconds to 1 minute

Completing the Pose

Completing the Pose

  1. Inhale and press into the left heel as you reach up through the arms and straighten the right leg to bring yourself to an upright position
  2. Turn both feet forward and exhale as you release the arms
  3. Reverse your feet and repeat on the opposite side
  4. 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

Benefits of the Pose

  1. Strengthens shoulders, arms and back muscles
  2. Stretches the groins, shoulders, belly, chest and lungs
  3. Strengthens and stretches the legs (thighs, calf muscles and ankles)
  4. Increases stamina

Don’t do it if…

  • You are currently experiencing high blood pressure
  • You experience neck problems, don’t look up between the hands.  An alternative option is to continue looking straight ahead with both sides of the neck lengthened evenly
  • You have tight shoulders; keep the arms slightly wider apart
  • You find it difficult to ground the back heel, raise the back heel and support it with a small prop

You can find more articles from the Yoga Bear's here!