Warrior I Pose / Virabhadrasana I
Step by Step
- Stand in Tadasana / Mountain Pose, with your feet hips’ width apart, hands by your sides. Take a big step back with your left leg, so your left foot points to the left at about 45 to 60 degrees. Make sure your feet are still hips’ width apart.
- Feet should be about a leg’s length distance apart, but more important is stability, so if your feet need to be closer to be stable, do so.
- Roll your outer right hip back a bit and the outer left hip forward, but most importantly make sure your upper body is facing the front of the mat.
- Bend your front knee, aiming the thigh parallel to the floor. Keep the weight in the front heel and big toe. Press the back foot from outer heel and lift from the inner arch. Keep the back leg working - this is your anchor.
- Rotate the outer calf and thigh from your back leg forward to help square the hips. The quadriceps of the back leg lifts up, and the top of the femur presses back. The quadriceps lift from knee.
- The frontal hip bones lift up. Release the buttock flesh down, away from the lumbar spine. Draw your abdomen gently in and up.
- On an inhalation lift your arms up and forwards keeping your arms shoulder-width apart. Keep your arms straight and in front of your ears, so you can keep the shoulders released away from the ears. Elongate your spine. Lift your sides from your pelvis equally. Lift the top of your sternum and spread your collarbones.
- Widen between your shoulder blades, lifting the base of your shoulder blades up and towards your spine. Firm your triceps in to straighten your arms.
- If you can bring your arms higher up without compressing the neck too much, you can start to look up, lifting from the thoracic spine. Lift the breast bone and keep the front ribs down. If you wish, bring your palms together. Again make sure that you do this without compressing the back of your neck.
- Stay in this pose between the 5 and 15 breaths, softening your face, and feeling the strength arising from your foundation. To come out of the pose, inhale and press through your back heel as you straighten the front leg. Exhale and lower your arms. Step your back foot forwards coming back to Tadasana, and then repeat on the other side.
- 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.
- Strengthens legs and pelvis muscles.
- Open hip joints and helps to alleviate painful conditions around the sacrum.
- Improves balance and posture.
- Stretches and strengthens the ankles, calves and thigh muscles.
- Done correctly, this pose can help with knee problems.
- Improves mobility in shoulders and opens the chest and lungs.
Watch out for
- In order to keep your pelvis square to the front of the mat, move your back foot out towards the edge of the mat, rather than forcing your pelvis to rotate if your feet are closer to the midline - keep the feet on separate train tracks.
- Be mindful of your neck - if there are any injuries or existing weaknesses in your neck, keep your chin to your chest keeping your neck in the line with your spine.
- Experiment replacing Warrior I with Crescent Pose by lifting your back heel and staying on the ball of your back foot.
- Complementary poses
- Try in Class