How to do Warrior 1 Pose (Virabhadrasana I)
The Warrior 1 Pose, known also as Virabhadrasana in Sanskrit, has 3 variations. This, being a foundational pose, is labelled "I". The name of this pose does not represent literal warriors, but the spiritual warrior who battles with our universal enemy, avidya (self-ignorance).
Name in Sanskrit: Virabhadrasana I
- Stretches your lungs, chest, shoulders, neck, belly and groins (psoas)
- Strengthens your arms and shoulders, and also the muscles in your back
- Stretches and strengthens your calves, thighs, and ankles
Avoid this pose if your have heart problems or high blood pressure.
If you have an injury in your shoulders, keep your arms parallel to each other when they are raised.
Also, if you have problems with your neck, keep your head and neck neutral, do not look upwards at your hands
HOW TO PRACTICE THIS ASANA
Stand in the Mountain Pose. When you exhale, step your feet about 4 steps from each other.
Raise your arms straight upwards, keeping them parallel. Stretch your arms towards the ceiling, reaching through the your little-fingers.
Firm the shoulder blades into your back and draw them downwards towards your coccyx.
Turn your right foot in halfway towards the left and your left foot out by 90 degrees to the left. Align your left heel with your right heel.
On an exhale, rotate the torso towards the left and square your pelvis with your mat. As the right side of your hips turns forwards, push the top of your right thigh bone back and ground your heel.
Lengthen the tailbone to the floor, slightly arching your upper back.
On an exhale, bend your left knee over your left ankle such that your shin is at a 90 degree angle with the floor, keeping your right heel planted firmly into your mat. If you are flexible enough, create a 90 degree angle with your left thigh and shin.
Reach actively upwards through the arms and lift your ribcage up, away from your pelvis.
While you press downwards through your back foot, notice a lift running up your back leg, through your torso and chest, up into your arms.
If you can, bring your palms to touch. Open your palms wide while they are together and reach higher through your pinkies. Keep your head and neck neutral. Gaze forward or slightly tilt your head back, looking towards your thumbs
Hold this pose for about one minute.
To release the pose, inhale and push your back heel into your mat, reach upwards through your arms and straighten your left knee.
Turn your feet to face forwards and, and on an exhale, release your arms down (you can choose to keep them raised for a greater challenge). Take a couple of breaths and repeat the steps on the opposite side.
Return to the mountain pose when you’re done.
How to do Warrior 1 Pose (Virabhadrasana I)
As a beginner, when bending your front knee into this pose, your pelvis will tend to tip forward. This will duck-tail your coccyx and compress your lower back.
When performing the second step described above, ensure that you lift your pubis up towards your navel, lengthening your tailbone towards your mat.
As you bend your knee, continue lifting and descending those two bones and keep the top of your pelvis parallel to your mat.
MODIFICATIONS & PROPS
It is difficult for beginners keep their back heel planted and their lower back long when performing this pose.
You can place your back heel on top of a small sandbag as a temporary solution.
For this partnering exercise, you will need to have two partners that are about your height. You will also need a pole (a broomstick, for instance).
Ask your partners to stand in front of you, one on each side, facing you. Have them hold the pole over your head, holding on to the ends.
Grab the pole and push simultaneously upwards with your partners until the arms are straight. Picture then, as you all push upwards, that your legs and body are “hanging” while you hold on to the pole.
You can perform this pose with your arms in different positions. For instance, after performing the first three steps explained above, place your hands on your hips instead of raising them upwards.
Then, once you bend your forward knee, sweep your arms behind you, clasping your hands together. Reach the hands away from your back and raise your chest.
You can squeeze your shoulder blades together in the beginning, but once you have lifted your chest, ensure you spread them against your back and away from your spine.
To release this pose, reach backwards with the hands and, on an inhale, raise yourself up and straighten your front knee.