Warrior II Pose

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Virabhadrasana II (Warrior II Pose), named after a fierce incarnation of the Hindu god Shiva, tests the strength and endurance of beginner and advanced yogis alike. Warrior II is the second of three poses dedicated to Virabhadra. You need to distribute your weight evenly between both legs with your front knee bent, square your hips forward, and extend your arms over your front and back legs.

If you hold the pose long enough, you’ll start to feel shaky. You’ll want to stand up and give your legs a break. You’ll want to bring your arms down to let your shoulders rest. But like a true warrior, you’ll find a way to hold the pose until your teacher mercifully cues you to move into the next asana.

Warrior II basics

Sanskrit: Virabhadrasana II (veer-ah-bah-DRAHS-anna)

Pose type: Standing posture

Targets: Hips

Why we love it: “Warrior II is one of those poses that is as strengthening and grounding as it is opening and lengthening—a rare combination. It makes me feel like a fierce goddess, patiently ready for battle. The way it opens my hips while strengthening my legs is unlike any other posture, and it’s one that I genuinely look forward to in any practice… I love that from [this pose] you can move almost anywhere—Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon), Utthitha Parsavakonasana (Extended Side Angle), Warrior I or III, or down into another Sun Salutation. It’s an empowering home base that makes you feel like a warrior of light.”  Sahara Rose, author of Discover Your Dharma

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Pose benefits

This standing posture strengthens and stretches the legs and ankles. Additionally, it stimulates the abdominal organs and relieves backaches. This pose can be therapeutic if you have carpal tunnel syndrome, flat feet, osteoporosis or sciatica.

Warrior II: Step-by-step instructions

(Photo: Christopher Dougherty)

  1. Starting in Mountain Pose (Tadasana), place your hands on your hips and step your feet 3 to 4 feet apart. Turn your left foot in about 30 degrees and your right foot out to 90 degrees. If you draw a line back from your right heel, it should intersect your left arch.
  2. Tuck your tailbone under and inhale to lift your torso. Breathe out as you move deeply into your hips, bringing your right thigh to a 90-degree angle, stacking your right knee above your right ankle. Activate your left leg and keep the hips square to the long edge of the mat.
  3. Open your arms, bringing them to shoulder height, parallel to the ground. Externally rotate your shoulders and extend through your fingertips. Gaze out over your right hand as you breathe in and expand your ribcage.
  4. Stay here for 8 to 10 breaths. Straighten your right leg, come back to Tadasana, reverse the legs, and switch sides.

Teaching Warrior II

These cues will help protect your students from injury and help them have the best experience of the pose:

  • If your shoulders are injured or tight, bring your palms together at the center of your chest for Anjali Mudra.
  • If you want to add a shoulder opener, exhale to extend your arms behind your back, and interlace your fingers. Externally rotate the shoulders and breathe in, filling the rib cage; exhale to softly fold forward, surrendering toward the earth. If you feel strain in your hamstrings, only fold forward as far as is comfortable. To finish, inhale and return to Warrior II.

Variation: Warrior II against a wall

If you struggle to maintain balance in this pose, place a block between your shin and the wall for stability. This also prevents your knee from going in front of your ankle.

Preparatory poses

Supta Padangusthasana (Reclining Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose)

Utthita Trikonasana (Extended Triangle Pose)

Vrksasana (Tree Pose)

Counter poses

Tadasana (Mountain Pose)

Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend)

Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclining Bound Angle Pose)

Reference Article

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