Yoga Poses: Warrior 1

Beth Purcell Yoga Poses 2 Comments

Virabhadrasana eka (veer-ah-bah-DRAHS-anna eka)
Vira = hero/courage, bhadra = auspicious, asana = pose, eka = one

Warrior 1 pose is a foundational yoga pose that is often included in vinyasa classes. Warrior 1 is a standing pose with a slight backbend. It’s the first of the three well-known poses that make up the Warrior series. Warrior 1 pose strengthens the shoulders, arms, legs and lower back. It stretches the chest, lungs, psoas, thighs, calves and ankles, and it’s also a heart opener. This pose also improves focus, balance, stability and core strength, and increases flexibility in the hips.

Before moving into Warrior 1, you’ll want to warm up with some preparation poses. Some examples include down dog, padangustana (big-toe pose), tree pose, and extended side angle pose.

To move into Warrior 1 pose, from extended side angle pose, release the palms to the mat as you step up the back foot slightly and widen the width between the feet. Turn your left foot to a 45-degree angle and point your right foot directly forward. As you inhale the arms high, attempt to bring the hips level. You can bring the hands to the hips to manually square the hips to face forward. A great tip to assist in bringing the hips level (if accessible to the student) is to hook the right thumb into the right hip flexor and place the left hand on the left glutes. Then pull back with the right thumb as you gently press forward with the left palm, encouraging the hips to square up.

Flex the front hip and knee to 90 degrees and ensure the knee is not drifting inward, but rather facing forward. Keep your front knee directly above your ankle, not in front. Press down through the outer edge of your back foot, keeping your back leg straight.

You can either bring your palms to touch over your head, or keep your hands shoulder-distance apart with your palms facing inward. Externally rotate the upper arm bones at the shoulders by drawing the pinkies inward. Draw the lower ribs inward and lift through your chest.

Continue to square the front of your pelvis forward without tilting your hips or lifting your back heel off the floor.

Hold for several breaths. To release, step forward to a standing position and bring your arms down by your sides. Repeat on the other side.

Pose Variations
(1) Warrior 1 with Steeple Mudhra. While in Warrior 1, interlace your fingers, except the first fingers which point straight up. Stay grounded in your lower body while you extend through your chest and arms.

(2) Humble Warrior. From your Warrior 1 stance, clasp your hands behind your back. Lean back drawing your clasped hands down the back leg into a slight backbend; inhale. Fold forward on the exhale, lowering your shoulder to rest on top of the front leg, or encourage the shoulder to nestle inside the front knee as you try to square both shoulders for a deeper variation. Your clasped hands draw overhead. Draw the hip of the bent knee back. Release your head and neck. Try to maintain square hips and shoulders. If you feel pain in the back knee, raise the back heel off the floor. Inhale back up to warrior 1.

Cautions & Modifications
Be cautious in this posture if you have neck, knee or shoulder injuries. You may want to keep your hands on your hips if you have a shoulder injury. For an ankle injury you can keep your back heel lifted, and modify in a crescent lunge or modified crescent lunge. Students with high blood pressure should also use caution or avoid this posture. If you find the posture is hard on your lower back, you can reduce the distance of the stance, moving the legs closer together.

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Comments 2

  1. Good guide! This is really helpful for beginners and intermediate practitioners alike. However, can you also include quick visual guides for the warm-up poses that you mentioned? Thanks anyway!

    1. Tina, at the moment we do not have the visual guides for the warm-up poses, but we will be working on a LOT more material this year which will hopefully include more visuals.

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