Warrior pose, or Virabhadrasana I, is considered one of the ultimate yoga positions for beginners to learn. This move is one of three warrior variations, and also one of the most recognised yoga poses because it’s so easy to learn and practice!
Warrior pose is a great addition to your daily yoga routine – whether it’s your morning ritual or your post-cardio stretch down. It’s great for the posture, stretching the legs and opening the hips.
The pose is focused on being a ‘spiritual warrior’, rather than any violent or combative connotations. As the story goes in the ancient yoga text, the Bhagavad-Gita, the battle of the spiritual warrior is against the universal enemy of self-ignorance, which is considered to be the ultimate source of human suffering.
We’ve put together a step-by-step guide to show you exactly how to practice your warrior pose, and how to perfect it so that you can start incorporating it into your daily life.
Before getting started with your yoga routine, make sure to stretch properly. If you’re wearing clothes that are too tight, or even too loose and floaty, you won’t be able to move as easily and this will hinder your breathing and concentration.
And remember to always need to practice yoga safely, even if it feels as though the pose you’re doing doesn’t feel especially risky. Investing in a yoga mat if you don’t already have one is a good idea, as this will help your grip and keep you balanced.
Once you’ve got yourself comfy and ready to go, come forward onto your mat and get started with the 5 detailed steps below.
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Start off in your mountain pose – if you haven’t learned this position yet, follow our step-by-step guide.
On an exhale, step or gently jump your legs apart, to roughly a 3-4 feet gap. Now raise your arms up so that they are perpendicular to the floor and parallel to each other, before stretching them out and reaching up towards the ceiling.
Push your shoulder blades right back and down towards your lower back. This will engage your abs and keep your posture strong.
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Now it’s time to get your feet in the right positions. Start by turning your left foot out to the right by about 45 degrees.
Your right foot should be turned out about 90 degrees to the right as well.
Make sure you align your heels, as this will help with your balance and keep your position strong.
On an exhale, rotate your torso to the right so that your pelvis is squared to the front towards the top of your mat. Don’t push yourself too hard here, just push to a comfortable level and then hold. You will gradually build up strength here if it feels difficult.
As you turn your left hip out forwards, press the top of the thighbone backwards in order to keep your heel firmly grounded. Elongate your spine, focusing particularly on the coccyx, pushing it down towards the floor.
Finally, push your upper torso back slightly to keep your back straight, and so that you feel strong and engaged all over.
Exhale again, this time bending your right knee over the ankle. Your shin should now be perpendicular to the floor.
Lift your torso up high away from your pelvis and reach out through your arms, channelling as much strength as you can.
Now, if you feel you can balance, bring your palms together into a prayer motion. Reach up as high as you can whilst maintaining your balance. Keep your shoulders relaxed, look forward and your head neutral, make sure you aren’t training your neck in any way.
If you find it more comfortable, you can also tilt your head back slightly and look up towards your thumbs.
Hold your Virabhadrasana for about 30 seconds to a minute, or as long as feels good! Try to focus more on keeping your balance and breathing in check rather than how long you can hold the pose for.
To come up again, inhale and push back onto your back heel, straightening the right knee. On an exhale, turn your feet forward now and release your arms. Change legs and repeat on the other side for a few deep breaths.
Traditional and ancient texts state that warrior pose has all sorts of powers and health benefits.
This position works to really stretch out the shoulders, neck, chest, abdomen and groin. This opens up your lungs and your mind to full capacity.
Your warrior move also strengthens these zones too, so your shoulders, arms, back and legs will become more muscular and toned the more you practice.
Warrior pose also has therapeutic and meditative benefits to help you relax and increase focus and awareness throughout the day. It’s incredibly calming on the brain and body, and can even ease muscular discomfort when practised correctly and regularly, but you might need to take yoga classes to learn how to execute it properly.
Modifications & Variations
You can practice this pose with various arm movements. For example, you could have your hands resting on your hips, and when you bend your front-facing knee you can lift your arms up back behind your body and clasp your hands.
How you position your arms will affect how you stretch different areas of your body. If you feel you need to focus on a certain area, then adjust your arms accordingly to concentrate the stretch.
If you enjoy this exercise then please try to read our blog post on Tadasana.