Warrior I Pose  -Virabhadrasana I

Step by step

  • From Tadasana / Mountain pose, step your left foot back, toes pointing slightly out, feet hip distance apart. Adjust your stance so that you feel stable and grounded through the feet. 
  • Bring your hands on the hips, align your hips with the front edge of the mat, by rolling your outer right hip back a bit and the outer left hip forward. Keep your upper body facing the front edge of the mat and your shoulders level.
  • Bend your right knee, the right thigh towards parallel to the floor. Keep the weight in the front heel and big toe.
  • Press the back foot down and lift from the inner arch. Keep the back leg engaged - this is your anchor.
  • Draw your lower abdomen gently in and up, lengthen your spine and soften the base of your neck.
  • Collarbones spread, lift your arms over your head, opening the chest.
  • Widen between the shoulder blades, the base of the shoulder blades lifting in and up towards the spine. Firm your triceps in to straighten the arms.
  • If your neck allows it, look up, lifting your breast bone but keeping the lower ribs down. 
  • 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.

Beginners tips

  • 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.

Benefits

  • Improves balance and posture.
  • Stretches and strengthens the feet, ankles, calves and thigh muscles.
  • Improves mobility in shoulders and hip joints and opens the chest and lungs.

Watch out for

  • Keep your feet roughly hip distance apart as if on separate train tracks in order to keep your hips facing forward. If you still feel discomfort in the lower back or pelvis region, lift your back heel up for High lunge / Crescent pose instead.
  • If there are any injuries or existing weaknesses in your neck, keep your chin tucked in and your neck in the line with your spine.

Variations

  • During Sun Salutations, experiment with different arm positions for Warrior 1 such as hands in prayer position (Anjali Mudra) or clasping your hands behind your back.
  • Come into a Humble warrior pose by bringing your upper body down on the inside of your bent leg, hands clasped behind you, arms straight and lifted.
  • Learn about the Warrior variations in Why we practice the Warrior poses.