Every day we go through battles — some are internal struggles, and some are conflicts with those around you. No matter the situation, when you emerge victorious, it feels good to celebrate. One way to do that is by hitting the classic “victory” pose: arms stretched toward the sky and chest lifted up. This stance is very similar to the warrior poses in yoga — warrior 1 pose and warrior 2 pose.
Both _The warrior 1 yoga pose, or Virabhadrasana 1 in Sanskrit, is a power pose in the Sun Salutation B series that reaches your arms up to the sky. The warrior 2 pose variation, or Virabhadrasana 2 in Sanskrit, is equally powerful, and it reaches the arms wide to the side.
How to Do Warrior 1 Pose (Virabhadrasana 1)
Start in mountain pose. Step your left foot back three to four feet and place it down at a 45-degree angle. Ideally, your back left arch should be in line with your right heel, but you can separate your feet more to give yourself a wider base of support. Keep your chest and hips facing forward to the front of the mat. Bend your front knee to a 90-degree angle directly over the ankle, with your toes pointing forward. Don’t bend the knee past the ankle.
Getting into the pose
Press your back foot into the ground. Lengthen your spine and engage your core. On an inhale, sweep the arms forward and up alongside the ears, palms facing each other.
Stabilize the legs by pressing the left thigh back and pressing the left heel firmly into the mat. Square the chest and hip to the front of the mat. Keep your arms in line with your ears, engage your triceps, and press your shoulders down and away from the ears. Look forward or up toward the hands.
Warrior 1 Tips and Modifications
- If you are tight in your shoulders you can bring your arms forward in front of the ears.
- If your hip flexors are tight, focus on lifting up your torso, pelvis, and ribs, so you don’t sink into your lower back.
- To make warrior 1 more advanced, you can add a slight backbend by lifting the sternum, looking up to the ceiling, and touching the palms together.
Benefits of Warrior 1 Pose
This pose is lauded as a great upper back, chest and shoulder opener, and it stretches the hip flexors and calves. It also strengthens your spinal extensors, shoulders, hamstrings and the quads. Warrior 1 is often used as a prep pose for backbends.
How to Do Warrior 2 Pose (Virabhadrasana 2)
Start in mountain pose. Step your left foot back three to four feet and place it down at a 45-degree angle, so that your left arch is in line with your right heel. Bend your front knee to a 90-degree angle directly over the ankle, with your toes pointing forward. Don’t bend the knee past the ankle. Square your chest and hips to the left side.
Getting into the pose
Press your left heel down firmly and engage your left thigh. Stand tall and engage your abs. On an inhale, reach your left arm back and your right arm forward, so that they are parallel to the mat in a “T” position with palms facing down.
Look over your right fingertips. Keep your front knee in line with your second toe. Stack your shoulders directly over your hips (so your ribs are centered — not shifted forward or back). Press your shoulder blades down.
Warrior 2 Tips and Modifications
- This pose can be more difficult for people with tight hips and adductors, causing the knees and legs to move out of alignment. Practice keeping your front knee in the correct position by using it to press a block against a wall.
- To deepen the pose, bend your front leg even more so your thigh is parallel with the floor. Be sure to keep the back foot flat and pressed firmly into the ground.
Benefits of Warrior 2 Pose
This pose creates a nice stretch in the ankles, legs, groin, and hips. It also requires you to engage your legs, abdominals, arms, and shoulders, strengthening all these muscles in the process. Warrior 2 is often held for multiple breathes, making it great for building stamina and focus.
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