Warrior I
VĪRABHADRĀSANA I (वीरभद्रासन)
(veer-aah-bha-drah-sah-nah)

 


‘Vīrabhadra’= warrior or name of legendary mythical warrior, ‘āsana’= posture
‘Vīra’= warrior, hero, courageous, vigorous, ‘Bhadra’= good or auspicious


Alternate Names

Warrior Pose

Difficulty Level: Beginner
Pose Type: Standing / Stretch / Balance / Strength

1. Start in Mountain Pose (Tadasana), with your legs slightly apart (about hip distance), keeping the back straight, shoulders and arms down, and palms facing forward.
2. Raise your arms and bend down into a forward bend, placing your fingers on the mat, slightly bending the knees.
3. Keeping the left knee bent, step your right leg straight back and in line with the right hip, and into a lunge. Keep this leg straight, however, be sure not to lock or hyperextend the right knee.
4. Lift your chest and straighten your back as you bring the heel of your right back foot down to the mat so that both heels are in line. Turn the toes on your back foot out to a 45-degree angle.
5. Make sure your hips are squared forward, in the same direction as your left leg, with your tailbone down. Your left knee must be in line with your ankle, as you sink into your hips, rooting your feet into the mat.
6. Lift your arms above your head and next to your ears with both palms facing each other. Keep your shoulders broad and down with your shoulder blades flat, opening the chest.
7. Inhale, and lift your chest, as you draw your navel to your spine. Stretch through your sides and abdomen, and then up through your fingertips, as you reach toward the sky and extend your spine.
8. Gaze forward. Hold the posture for several breaths (at least 20 seconds to build strength). When you are ready, release back into Mountain Pose (Tadasana) and repeat on the other side.

Common Adjustments
• Front knee extended past the ankle or toes
• Knee splayed out to side
• Knee not stacked over ankle
• Front foot not in line with the knee
• Feet lifting off the mat instead of grounded
• Trouble balancing
• Leaning to either side
• Hip sockets twisted to the side instead of squared (facing) forward
• Back leg not straight
• Back knee locked
• Back foot not at a 45-degree angle
• Strained neck
• Shoulders tense
• Shoulders hunched / Too close to the ears
• Lower back compressed
• Chest collapsed
• Hip sockets twisted to the side instead of squared (facing) forward
• Arms too far forward
• Arms too far back
• Arms to far out to the side

Modifications
• Students with shoulder or neck discomfort or injuries should not raise their hands above their head. They can either place their hands on their hips, place their hands on their front thigh, put them in Prayer Mudra in front of their heart center, or out to the side bent at the elbows with cactus arms.
• Students with knee or hip injury or discomfort can place a folded mat or blanket under the ball or heel of the front foot, or they can place a chair under the front thigh for support and balance. Alternatively, they can shorten their stance to reduce the pressure.
• For students with tight hips, lower back pain, have trouble turning their back foot to 45-degrees, or want to strengthen the quadriceps and ankles, can either practice Crescent High Lunge (Ashta Chandrasana) or straighten their front leg to relieve pressure.
• Students that have trouble balancing or gripping the mat can practice with a wider stance or the back heel up against a wall. If the foot comes off the mat, place a blanket or folded mat under the side of the foot. Alternatively, they can practice by holding a chair or next to a wall holding a block between the wall and front knee.
• Students with leg or abdomen weakness, are pregnant, or rehabilitating can practice with a chair, stool or Yoga ball in between the legs for the student to rest on.
• To deepen the pose, lengthen the stance and slightly tilt back and gaze up towards the hands.
• To challenge balance, practice with eyes closed.

Counter Poses
• Downward-Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
• Child’s Pose (Balasana)
• Forward Bend, Standing (Uttanasana)
• Half Forward Bend, Standing (Ardha Uttanasana)
• Plank (Phalakasana)
• Split Pose (Hanumanasana)

Anatomy
• Neck• Shoulders (Deltoids)
• Chest (Pectoralis Major and Minor)• Biceps and Triceps
• Abdomen (Core)• Upper (Cervical), Middle (Thoracic), and Lower (Lumbar) Back and Spine
• Hips (Psoas Major and Iliopsoas)• Gluteus Maximus and Medius
• Quadriceps and Hamstrings• Calf muscles
• Knees• Ankles and Feet

Benefits
• Strengthens and stretches the neck, chest, shoulders, biceps, triceps, abdomen, obliques, hips, psoas, groin, glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings, calf muscles, and ankles.
• Opens the chest, hips, groin, and shoulders as well as lengthens the spine.
• Releases tension in the hips and glutes, which can be therapeutic for students with sciatica and osteoporosis, as well as reduces stiffness around the neck and shoulders.
• Improves and stabilizes joint health by flexing the neck, shoulders, hips, knees, and ankles, which is therapeutic for students with arthritis and carpal tunnel syndrome.
• Improves balance and focus, develops will power and confidence, which stimulates the mind. This also balances the nervous system, which helps with insomnia and fatigue.
• Improves endurance, stamina, and stability.
• Improves the Respiratory System by opening the chest and increasing lung capacity by breathing through the diaphragm, which is therapeutic for students with asthma.
• Improves circulation and digestion by massaging internal organs and abdomen muscles. Also stimulates the thyroid and parathyroid.

Contraindications
1. Students with recent or chronic injury to the neck, shoulders, hips, knee, or back, have a cardiac condition, diarrhea, heartburn, or palpitations should avoid this pose or seek guidance.
2. Students with neck, spine, shoulder, knee and/or hip discomfort, have high or low blood pressure, or are pregnant should practice with caution and utilize modifications and/or props and seek guidance.
3. It is important to lift the chest in this pose so that undo pressure is not put on the lower back and/or compress the lower back.

Chakras
Chakra One:Root or Muladhara (root support) Chakra. This is the survival and gravity chakra. Its goals are stability, grounding, prosperity, right livelihood, and physical health. Its location is the base of the spine, coccygeal plexus, legs, feet, and large intestines.
Chakra TwoSacral or Svadhisthana (sweetness) Chakra. This is the chakra for emotion, sexuality, and attraction of opposites. Its goals are fluidity, pleasure, and relaxation. Its location is the abdomen, genitals, lower back, and hips.
Chakra Three:Solar Plexus, Self-Power, or Manipura (lustrous gem) Chakra. This is the combustion, power, and energy chakra. Its goals are vitality, strength of will, and purpose. Its location is the solar plexus.
Chakra Four:Heart, Love, or Anahata (Unstuck) Chakra. This is the love and equilibrium chakra. Its goals are balance, compassion, and acceptance. Its location is the heart.
Chakra Five:Throat, Visuddha, Vissudha, Vishuddhi, or Vishuddha (purification) Chakra. This is the communications and sympathetic vibrations chakra. Its goals are clear communication, creativity, and resonance. Its location is the throat.



Additional information on this asana can be found in your textbooks

  • In the textbook “Instructing Hatha Yoga – 2nd Edition With Web Resource” by: Diane M. Ambrosini, this posture can be found in Chapter 7 – Standing Postures as “Virabhadrasana I – Warrior I”. **This textbook shows a slight variation where the back is slightly arched (instead of straight) and you look up (instead of looking forward).
    • Watch the Chapter 7 video “Virabhadrasana I” found in the Web Resources that come with your textbook “Instructing Hatha Yoga – 2nd Edition With Web Resource” by: Diane M. Ambrosini. This video gives you an additional example of how to practice this asana.
  • In the textbook “YOGA Anatomy – Third Edition” by Leslie Kaminoff and Amy Matthews, this posture can be found in Chapter 8 – STANDING POSES as “VIRABHADRASANA I – Warrior I”. **This textbook shows a slight variation where you look up (instead of looking forward).

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