Warrior I and Warrior II

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In the next installment of our instructional videos, Angela, Yoga 4 Change's Program Director, demonstrates two postures, Warrior (Virabhadrasana (veer-ah-bah-DRAHS-anna)) I and II.  Both of these postures can be practiced either on their own or integrated into a practice that combines the postures and exercises that were demonstrated in our previous videos.  Feel free to mix and match to create your own sequence.

Warrior I

Extend your arms upward to frame the side of head.  If that doesn't feel good, try making a bend in your elbows to form a goal post shape.  If that still creates discomfort, place your hands on your hips.  Remember, this is your practice and you can get creative and do something not demonstrated by Angela, such as placing your palms together and holding them at the center of your chest.

Set your gaze forward to one spot.

Warrior I In Chair

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While seated in a chair, extend your back leg behind you so that your foot is flat on the floor, push into the outside of your foot as if you're pushing away sand.   The placement of your foot doesn't have to be directly behind you, it may be more to the side.  

Try to keep a 90° bend in your front leg and have your front foot flat on the floor. If you find your front heel is lifting off from the floor, try moving forward so more of your front thigh is positioned off of the chair.  If your foot is not completely touching the floor, a yoga block or something comparable can assist in bringing the floor to you.  

Warrior I On The Mat

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Face the front of your shoulders and hips forward, which is also the direction your front foot is facing.  If you're having difficulty doing this it may because of limited hip mobility or tight muscles.  Two things that can help are: 

  1. Bring a shorter distance between your front foot and back foot.
  2.  Bring a wider distance left to right with your feet.  

A wider stance left to right will also create more stability. So, if you feel unbalanced or wobbly, give that a try.   These adjustments to your feet and legs will allow more mobility and comfort in your upper body.  

If you have a more narrow, long stance and your hip mobility is limited this compromises the safety and all around comfort in the posture.   The more flexible and strong your body will become the more you practice healthy body alignment as part of your daily routine.

Warrior II

Extend your arms into a "T" shape, with fingers facing forward and backwards.  If that arm position is uncomfortable, you can also place your hands on your hips or bring your hands together behind your back with either fingers interlaced or grabbing for opposite elbows.

Warrior II In The Chair

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Try to align the arch of your back foot with the heel of your front foot, with the toes on your back foot pointing in a similar direction to your back knee.  Your hips and shoulders will be stretching in that same direction, as well. If you find it's difficult to extend your back leg fully behind you, you can adjust your back leg so that it is more to the side. 

Warrior II On The Mat

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The outside of your back foot will be parallel to the back edge of your mat.  Your foot, hip, and shoulder placement will be similar to practicing this posture while seated. 

In both Warrior I and Warrior II, whether you're on your mat or in a chair, your front foot and ankle should be directly under your knee, stacking your joints.  You never want your knee to extend past your toes.  Your back toes in Warrior I will point in a forward direction, at about a 45° angle, the same as your knee and hip.  In Warrior II your back toes will point out to the side, the same direction as your hips and back knee.

With most postures, try to keep your knees and toes going in the same direction.  Due to strength and mobility levels, muscle and alignment can cause them to pull away from each other.  If you notice this, back off and make some adjustments to your stance.  As an example, if you're in a forward fold with your feet near each other and your knees are moving away from each other, step your feet further apart.  This will allow a more straight line from hip - to knee - to ankle.  It will also bring more comfort to the rest of your body.  Practicing alignment like this will create more flexibility, stability, and strength.

For both postures in a chair, you want to press into your feet to activate your leg muscles.  Press down as if you were going to launch yourself out of the chair.  

For both postures on a mat, press into your feet and slightly away from each other.

Whether in a chair on on the mat, keep your spine tall with your shoulders set above your hips.  Draw your lower abdominal muscles, the area below your bellybutton, inward.  You may notice the front of your pelvis lift up a bit.  This will help stabilize your back. 

Benefits of Warrior I and II

  • Stretches the chest and lungs, shoulders and neck, belly, and groin.
  • Strengthens the shoulders and arms, and the muscles of the back.
  • Strengthens and stretches the thighs, calves, and ankles.
  • Stimulates abdominal organs.
  • Increases stamina.
  • Relieves backaches, especially through second trimester of pregnancy.
  • Therapeutic for carpal tunnel syndrome, flat feet, infertility, osteoporosis, and sciatica.

The sequence Angela demonstrates in the video includes the following postures, all done while seated in a chair:

  • Sequence One (x2)
  • Mountain
  • Forward fold
  • Cow
  • Cat
  • Sequence Two
  • Crescent lunge, left side
  • Mountain
  • Forward fold
  • Cow
  • Cat
  • Crescent lunge. right side
  • Mountain
  • Forward fold 
  • Cow
  • Cat

Thank you for reading. If you found this information beneficial, please consider making a sustainable donation to Yoga 4 Change.  Your donation is used to support our core programs and helps us fulfill our mission. Please click below to donate online.  You can make a one time or reoccurring tax deductible contribution. 

Patrick Fisher