As per Hindu Mythology, ‘ Virabhadra’, was the name of a ‘Warrior’, created by Lord Shiva. Hence this pose comes from the creation of the fiercest warrior by Lord Shiva and so the name goes as ‘Virabhadrasana’ or ‘Warrior’ Pose. In Sanskrit ‘Vira’ means ‘Hero’ ‘Warrior’ ‘Vigorous’ and ‘Courageous’, and ‘Bhadra’ means ‘good’ ‘auspicious’.
Considered to be a powerful posture replicating the power of a warrior, this pose is the first variation amongst the many under warrior poses. The importance of practicing this pose is emphasised clearly in all schools of yoga as it forms a part of the standing poses which includes balance, stability and stamina. To balance the body with feet more than hip distance apart and raising the arms above your head while gazing at them, requires one to connect the body with the breath. Practicing the alignment of the feet and the knees, along with the torso marks as a great pose to add beauty to one’s body.
Warrior Pose I is considered a base pose as Warrior Pose I variations can be derived from this pose. Warrior Pose I helps boost energy in the body and hence can be included in different yoga sequences.
Start in Tadasana, also known as Mountain pose, with your feet together and arms relaxed by your sides. Distribute your weight evenly on both feet. If maintaining balance is challenging, you can stand with your feet hip-distance apart and parallel to each other.
Exhale and step your left leg approximately 4 to 5 feet behind you. Rotate your back foot at a 45-degree angle, pointing the toes towards the top left corner of your mat. The front toes should be facing forward and parallel to the front edge of your mat.
Ensure that there is alignment between your heels. Keep your hips facing the front of your mat, resembling two headlights pointing forward. *Modification: For added stability, you can slightly walk the right foot out to the right.
On an exhale, bend your right knee to a 90-degree angle, making sure the knee is directly above the ankle and the shin is perpendicular to the ground. Distribute your weight evenly through the front foot, lifting the inner arch and grounding down through the corners of your feet.
Engage the quadriceps of your back leg, keeping it straight without locking out the knee. Press the outer edge of your back foot into the ground while pushing into the mound of your big toe.
Inhale and raise your arms overhead. Broaden your collarbones and rotate your triceps or pinkie side of the hands inward, towards each other. Draw your shoulders away from your ears as your fingertips actively reach upward. Your arms can be parallel to each other or palms can be pressed together.
Lengthen your tailbone towards the ground as you gently draw the navel in and up towards the spine. Tuck the lower ribs in, being mindful not to over-arch the lower back. Overarching can lead to discomfort or injury, so focus on drawing the navel in and up.
Gaze forward and slightly upward, avoiding any strain in the neck. Root down into the earth as you lift up towards the sky.
To exit the pose, straighten your front leg, lower your arms, and return to Mountain pose. Repeat the sequence on the left side.
Benefits and Contraindications
Stretches the chest and lungs, shoulders and neck, belly, groins (psoas)
Strengthens the shoulders and arms, and the muscles of the back
Strengthens and stretches the thighs, calves, and ankles
High blood pressure
Students with shoulder problems should keep their raised arms parallel (or slightly wider than parallel) to each other.
Students with neck problems should keep their head in a neutral position and not look up at the hands.
Photo poses in different angles
Modifications And Props For Beginners
Warrior Pose is considered a beginner to intermediate yoga pose, but it can be difficult at first. To master the pose, you can start by modifying it with props:
Use a wall: Stand facing a wall with your arms extended, and place your hands on the wall for support. Step one foot back and bend the front knee, coming into Warrior 1. Use the wall to support your balance and alignment.
Use a chair: Stand facing a chair and place your hands on the backrest. Step one foot back and bend the front knee, coming into Warrior 1. Use the chair to support your balance and alignment.
Use a block: Place a block under your front foot to elevate the heel and provide more stability. This can be especially helpful if you have tightness or discomfort in the hips.
Use a strap: If you have limited shoulder mobility, you can use a strap to help you bring your arms overhead. Hold the strap with both hands and extend your arms overhead, keeping the strap taut.
Find a comfortable and stable stance to start.
To prevent the front knee from collapsing in, wrap the muscles around the outer hip to externally rotate the leg.
To prevent the ribs from flaring out, engage the core and draw the tailbone down towards the mat, which also keeps the lower back long.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I practice Warrior I if I have knee pain?
If you have knee pain, it’s important to proceed with caution when practicing Warrior 1. Consider modifying the pose by bringing your front foot closer to your back foot or using a block to elevate your front heel. You can also try focusing on engaging your glutes and thighs to take pressure off the knees.
What muscles does Warrior I work?
Warrior I primarily works the quadriceps, glutes, and hamstrings, as well as the muscles of the back and core. It also requires balance and stability, which engages the smaller stabilizing muscles of the legs and feet.
How long should I hold Warrior I?
As with any yoga pose, the length of time you hold Warrior I will depend on your experience level and personal preferences. Generally, you may hold the pose for 5-10 breaths, gradually increasing to 30 seconds or longer as you become more comfortable with the posture.
Can Warrior I help with stress and anxiety?
Warrior I is a grounding and energizing pose that can help to calm the mind and reduce stress and anxiety. Focus on your breath and your connection to the ground as you hold the pose, allowing any tension or worry to melt away.
A digital marketer in love with yoga and everything that goes along with it.
In 2021, her huge passion for yoga led her to yoga teacher trainings.
After successfully completing her studies, Iana received her Yoga Alliance U.S. certification, left the corporate IT world and devoted herself to the development of Yanva.
To be able to create the best online yoga space for yoga enthusiasts like her, Iana is constantly learning and improving her skills in various aspects of yoga philosophy, anatomy and biomechanics.
Since 2021, she has continued to attend various types of teacher training, including yoga therapy, gives online and offline classes, and conducts local workshops for people who want to learn more about yoga.
At the moment, Iana continues to work on her personal practice, improving her hand balancing skills, as well as developing her own training programs.