Embrace your Warrior

The Warrior I asana (pose) has been the talk of the day, so I thought it should feature on the blog today.

Warrior I (Virabhadrasana I) is a powerful standing yoga pose that develops stamina, balance, and coordination.  This pose also strengthens leg muscles, builds flexibility and stretches the chest and lungs – improving breathing capacity and invigorating the body.

Beyond the physical posture, Warrior I creates deep concentration.  Focusing on your foundation and building the pose from the ground up reduces distractions and hones your energy.  Your mind becomes focused, calm, and clear.

Instructions:

1. Standing with your feet hip-distance apart and your arms at your sides. Let your thoughts settle. Focus on the present moment. Breathe deeply and evenly, calming your mind. Draw your awareness inward.

Step your right foot back, about a leg’s length.  Adjust so you feel stable on the floor with the left foot planted firmly and toes pointing in front of you.  Turn your right foot inwards at a 45-60 degree angle.

Align your front heel with the arch of your back foot.  Keep your pelvis turned toward the front of your mat.  Try to keep the left knee directly over the right ankle.

2. Bring the hands to the hips and square the hips and the shoulders to the front, but don’t worry if your hips aren’t perfectly squared to the front.  Relax the shoulders down and draw the shoulder blades towards the spine to open the chest.  Don’t let your front knee track in front of your toes – try and keep it vertical.

3. Inhale the arms over the head in a H position with the palms facing each other.  Keep the shoulders relaxed and the chest lifted.  To go deeper, bring the palms together and carefully arch back and look up towards the ceiling.

4. Inhale deeply into the belly and chest, exhale press into the feet, fingers and crown, feeling your body expanding out in different directions.  Fix your gaze on a still spot (a.k.a. Find your Drishti.)

5. Keep breathing and hold for 3-6 breaths.  Feel strong in this position.

6. To release, exhale and lower the hands and step back leg forward to meet front leg in a standing position.

7. Repeat on the other side.

Beginners Tips

  • The trickiest part of this pose is squaring your hips to the front. Though warrior I has traditionally be taught with the heel of the front foot lined up with the arch of the back foot (like standing on a tightrope), it makes more sense for most people to separate their feet a bit further apart (like standing on train tracks) as this separation allows the hips to square more effectively.
  • If you don’t have a feeling for what squaring the hips to the front means, place your hands on your waist and feel for the bony part of your pelvis that sticks out on both sides.  We call these the hip points. Imagine that they are the headlights of a car and they should face the front of the mat.
  • The truth is like all warrior poses, there’s no one-size-fits-all.
  • If you really want to move more purely, your stance will likely become a little shorter (back to front) and maybe wider (left to right). It will also likely be higher – i.e., you likely won’t bend your front knee as deeply.
  • Focus on the hip movement – i.e., the leg bone movement in your pelvis.  Feel what is happening.  Be attentive to each movement.
  • Be aware of your pelvis. Don’t hold it rigid, just notice that it is staying where it is in space. Let it be quiet and still.
  • Breathe easy and enjoy!
  • Notice what you feel.

Advanced Tips

  • Challenge yourself by standing in this pose for up to 10 breaths or more.
  • If holding warrior I pose feels super “easy,” you might consider a longer stance so that you can bend your front knee a little deeper (just make sure your stance is still stable!)

References:
http://www.jackcuneo.com/blog/2014/9/20/virabhadrasana-i-warrior-1-pose 
http://www.stylecraze.com/articles/virabhadrasana-benefits/#gref
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