Warrior III  -Virabhadrasana III

Step by step

  • Starting in a High Lunge with your right foot forward, hips are square to the front of the mat, arms are either side of your ears with the hands shoulder distance apart or palms touching.
  • Activate your core by lifting your pelvic floor muscles and drawing in the lower belly, navel to spine. Engaging Mula and Uddiyana Bandhas for stability and lightness.
  • On an exhale fold from the hips lowering your torso and arms so that they are around a 45 degree angle with the floor.
  • Focus on a point on the floor just in front of your mat.
  • Inhale, root down through the front foot and begin to shift your weight forwards. Starting to lift the back foot from the floor.
  • Begin to straighten the standing leg as you bring your body and left leg parallel with the floor.
  • Lift the muscles of the right thigh to keep the leg engaged without locking the knee.
  • The toes of the back foot are pointing down to the floor and the hips are level.
  • Keep the standing leg strong by rooting through the foot.
  • Extend out through both the raised foot and the hands.
  • Stay for five breaths.
  • To come out of the pose, exhale and start to bend the standing leg as you lift the torso and lower the raised leg, with control, back into High Lunge.
  • Inhale and step forward to Mountain Pose / Tadasana.
  • Repeat on the other side.

Beginners tips

  • Practise this pose with your hands touching a wall or the back of a tall chair. This will help you get used to the actions in the body while helping with your balance.
  • Moving the arms out to the sides often makes it easier to balance than holding the arms in front of you.
  • Think about shooting energy out through the back foot to help keep it light and lifted.
  • Think about lifting the inner arch of the foot and inner ankle.
  • Keeping the standing knee bent can help with balance.
  • Your core is your friend! Engaging the lower belly will help with stability.

Benefits

  • Warrior III tones and strengthens the legs, arms, back and core muscles.
  • One legged balance poses like Warrior III are great for working the small muscles of the feet and ankles, maintaining foot health and stability.
  • Warrior III tests and improves your balance and focus.
  • Warrior III also teaches body awareness as you learn to adjust your own position in space.

Watch out for

  • Locking or hyperextending the knee of the standing leg. Keep a slight bend in the knee if you are prone to this.
  • It’s common for the hip of the raised leg to lift up, try to keep them both level with each other by rotating the inner thigh of the lifted leg upwards and rolling the outer hip downwards.

Variations

  • Experiment with your arms in different positions: out to the sides in a T shape or diagonally behind you, or pressing the palms together either in front of the chest or behind the back.
  • The foot of the lifted leg can be flexed, pointed or ‘flointed’ (pressing through the ball of the foot while keeping the toes back as if in high heels).
  • For some people turning out the toes of the standing leg before coming into balance is more comfortable.