Reverse Warrior Pose  -Viparita Virabhadrasana

Step by step

  • Starting in Warrior II with the right knee bent, turn the palm of your right hand to face the ceiling.
  • On an inhale lift your right arm up to the ceiling. At the same time lower your left hand and slide it down your left leg.
  • Firm your shoulder blades on the back and lift your chest as you come into a gentle backbend. Look to your raised hand or gaze to your back foot if you have neck or balance issues.
  • Stay in the pose for up to 5 breaths.
  • Come back to Warrior II on an exhale.
  • Repeat on the other side.

Beginners tips

  • With so much going on in the upper body remember to build the pose from the ground up. Make sure you have your weight evenly distributed between both feet and try not to let the feet roll inwards. Instead, think about spreading the weight through all four corners of both feet.
  • Check the alignment of your front knee so that the knee is stacked (more or less) over the ankle.
  • Think about lifting your chest up rather than the pose being a backbend - this will help avoid crunching the lower back.

Benefits

  • Opens the chest and side body, releasing tension in the intercostal muscles around the ribs and allowing for a freer deeper breath. 
  • Strengthens the legs.
  • Opens the hips, groins and inner thighs.

Watch out for

  • If you have neck issues, or if you feel unsteady in the pose, look down to your back foot instead of up to your raised hand.
  • Check to see if your knee is over the ankle. For most people this is the healthiest position for the knee, however it is common for the knee to fall in towards the big toe side of the foot. 

Variations

Practise different arm variations:

  • The top arm can point straight up, while the bottom hand slides down the back leg.
  • Or, curve the right arm over your head (pointing to the back of the room) while you curve the left arm across the front of your body - pointing towards your front knee. This is a nice variation from which to transition in and out of Extended Side Angle pose.
  • For more of a shoulder stretch and chest-opener you could also try sweeping the left arm behind the body and try reaching for the top of the right thigh.