I’m often asked by students about the correct alignment and muscle activation in Warrior 2 (Virabhadrasana II). Before we get look closer at the physical aspects of this pose, think about Ray Long’s description out of Anatomy for Vinyasa Flow and Standing Poses …
“This pose embodies the spirit of a warrior and conveys readiness, stability and courage”.
I think the mindset is just as important as the physical setting up of Warrior 2, as this pose requires a high level of concentration and body awareness, a bit of fierce determination to stand powerfully.
Okay, let’s take a closer look at Warrior 2 and I’ll keep it fairly simple, bearing in mind there is a lot more involved if you ever want to study this pose in greater detail.
Focus of Warrior 2
- Strengthen the front leg
- Opening the front of the pelvis and chest
- Turn the back toes in slightly (30 degrees), press into the big toe, then back outer heel.
- The back hip externally rotates
- Front hip and knee flex to 90 degrees
- Shoulders draw away from each other (abduction) and externally rotate
- Elbows extend
- Cervical spine rotates to turn the head
Setting it up
- Front Leg: Once your front hip and knee are flexed to 90 degrees, lower the front forearm to the front thigh and press down and then press the leg back against the forearm. This fires up the hip flexors, including the psoas.
- Back Leg: Invert the back foot to about a 30 degree angle, press into the big toe, then press the heel into the mat to fire up the quads to lift the knee. Engage the glutes by trying to drag the back foot away from the front foot.
- Mid-body: Once you’ve felt the pelvis beginning to open from the steps above (and specifically the front foot pressing into the ground and attempting to draw it towards the midline), lift the torso and begin to open the chest as the shoulders roll away from the ears.
- Arms & Shoulders: Extend the arms in line with the shoulders and flip the palms up. Pretend you’re pushing the palms against an invisible line of resistance to externally rotate the arm bones at the shoulders. Flip the palms over at the wrists and engage the triceps to to straighten the elbows.
The front knee drifting inward (especially) or outward, keep alignment in the front hip, thigh and lower leg.
Hopefully quick and effective way to get into your Warrior 2, enjoy!