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Warrior poses: Types and how to do it

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Warrior poses: Types and how to do it

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The warrior pose, also known as Virabhadrasana, has four variations. Here are the types of warrior pose and learn how to do them.

If you don’t want to sit on the floor and fold your legs to do yoga or do a deep squat, go for a sequence of standing poses. The warrior pose or Virabhadrasana is a standing yoga pose. It has four main variations that you can easily perform at home. The warrior poses can strengthen your legs, open your hips, build concentration and enhance stability as well as balance. The asanas are more than just extending the arms out or bending knees. To enjoy the health benefits of warrior poses, read on to find out how to do the variations right.

What is a warrior pose?

The warrior pose, also known as Virabhadrasana, is a foundational yoga posture that symbolises strength, courage, and resilience. It is a standing asana that embodies the spirit of a warrior, both in its physical form and its mental fortitude, says yoga expert Himalayan Siddhaa Akshar.

Woman doing yoga
The warrior pose is a standing yoga asana. Image courtesy: Freepik

What are the different types of warrior poses?

There are four main variations of the warrior pose, each with its own unique stance and focus.

1. Warrior I (Virabhadrasana I)

In this pose, the front foot is pointed forward, while the back foot is angled slightly inward. The hips and shoulders face forward, with the arms raised overhead, palms together.

Warrior I strengthens the legs, opens the hips, and builds concentration, says the expert.

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2. Warrior II (Virabhadrasana II)

Warrior II involves extending the arms out to the sides, parallel to the floor, with the torso facing sideways. The front knee is bent at a 90-degree angle, directly above the ankle, while the back leg remains straight.

This pose enhances stability, improves circulation, and stretches the groin and chest.

3. Warrior III (Virabhadrasana III)

Unlike the previous yoga poses, warrior III is a balancing posture that requires standing on one leg while extending the other leg straight back behind the body. The torso and arms extend forward, parallel to the floor, creating a straight line from the fingertips to the heel.

Warrior III cultivates balance, tones the legs, and strengthens the core muscles.

4. Reverse warrior (Viparita Virabhadrasana)

In Reverse warrior, the front knee is bent as in warrior II, but the back hand reaches down the back leg while the front arm extends overhead and back, creating a gentle side stretch.

This pose improves flexibility in the side body, and promotes deep breathing.

Woman doing yoga
Warrior poses are good for the lower body. Image courtesy: Freepik

How to do warrior poses?

Follow these steps to do the four warrior poses.

1. Warrior I

  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart.
  • Step one foot back about 3 to 4 feet, keeping both your feet facing forward.
  • Bend your knee at a 90-degree angle so that it aligns over your ankle.
  • Ground the back foot at a 45-degree angle, keeping the heel pressed into the floor.
  • Inhale as you raise your arms overhead, palms together or slightly apart.
  • Look forward and hold the pose for several breaths.
  • To release, exhale as you lower your arms and step back to the starting position then repeat on the other side.

2. Warrior II

  • Begin in a standing position and step your feet wide apart, about 3 to 4 feet.
  • At 90 degrees, turn your right foot out while keeping your left foot slightly inward.
  • Focus on your right knee and bend at a 90-degree angle.
  • Extend your arms out to the sides, as you face your palms down.
  • Look over your right fingertips and hold the pose for several breaths.
  • To release, straighten your right leg and return to the starting position then repeat on the other side.

3. Warrior III

  • Begin in a standing position and shift your weight onto your left foot.
  • Engage your core and extend your right leg straight back behind you.
  • Hinge forward at the hips while simultaneously lifting your right leg to hip height.
  • Take your arms forward ensuring they are parallel to the floor.
  • Keep your gaze focused on the ground to maintain balance.
  • Hold the pose for several breaths before switching sides.

4. Reverse warrior

  • Start in warrior II position with your right knee bent and left leg extended.
  • Reach your right arm up and back, placing your left hand lightly on your back leg.
  • Extend through the right side of your body, creating a gentle side stretch.
  • Keep your gaze lifted toward your right fingertips.
  • Hold the pose for several breaths before returning to warrior II and repeating on the other side.

What are the health benefits of warrior poses?

Warrior I, II and III poses help in muscle activation in the lower body, so they can aid in strengthening of quadriceps, according to a 2021 study published in the ‌International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health‌.

Here are some of the benefits of warrior poses:

  • Warrior poses target various muscle groups, including the legs, arms, shoulders, and core, helping to build strength and endurance, says Akshar.
  • These yoga poses stretch and open the hips, groin, chest, and shoulders, increasing flexibility and range of motion.
  • Warrior III challenges balance, improving stability and coordination.
  • Holding the warrior poses requires mental focus and concentration, which can help calm the mind and reduce stress.
  • The dynamic nature of these poses promotes blood flow throughout the body, delivering oxygen and nutrients to the muscles and organs.
  • Practicing warrior poses cultivates a sense of inner strength, courage, and empowerment, boosting self-confidence both on and off the mat.

Who should avoid doing warrior poses?

While warrior poses offer numerous benefits, there are certain people who should approach them with caution or skip them.

1. Avoid warrior pose if you have joint issues

People with knee, hip, or shoulder injuries should be cautious when practicing warrior poses. They may need to modify or skip certain variations to avoid exacerbating their condition, says the expert.

2. Avoid warrior pose if you have high blood pressure

Individuals with uncontrolled high blood pressure should avoid holding the poses for extended periods. The exertion could potentially raise blood pressure levels further.

3. Avoid warrior pose if you are pregnant

Pregnant women should consult with their doctor before practicing warrior poses. These variations may not be suitable, especially in later stages of pregnancy.

Listening to your body and honouring its limitations while practicing yoga are important.

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