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woman performing warrior one pose

How to Perform Warrior I Pose (Virabhadrasana I)

Warrior I pose (Virabhadrasana I) is an excellent pose to build flexibility and building strength and stamina. The pose is actually named after a mythological Hindu warrior named Virabhadra and it’s said that this pose is used to build stability and channel your focused warrior energy. With that said, let’s get started channeling your inner warrior by learning how to perform Warrior I. 

Let’s get started...

young woman in warrior one pose yoga

How to Perform Warrior I Pose - Step-by-Step 

Step 1: Begin in the runners lunge on your yoga mat. One foot should be all the way back and resting on the ball, your front-facing foot should have 90-degree angle bent knee. Your feet should be on parallel lines rather than one leg directly in front of the other. Your hands will be placed on the ground on either side of your front foot and your back should be long. 

Step 2: Now swing your back foot forward about a foot or so until you can comfortably place the entire sole of your foot firmly on your yoga mat. Check your weight distribution on the back foot. You want your weight to be on the outside edge of your foot rather than on the inside where it collapses your knee. Press through the foundation of this back foot, lift the kneecap (without locking it) and tighten your thigh muscles. 

Step 3: Now check in with the front leg to ensure your knee is directly above your ankle and your weight is equally balanced on your front foot. Tighten your thighs and draw energy from the earth making sure your foundation is solid through both legs. 

Step 4: Place both hands on your hips and roll your shoulder blades down and back so that your shoulders are relaxed and away from the ears. 

Step 5: If you’re bent forward at this point, gently raise yourself up into standing posture, checking your form along the way. Ensure your shoulders remain down and back and your back remains long. 

Step 6: Square your hips so that both sides are facing forward. Now, on an inhale, reach both hands all the way forward and up until they’re above your head. You can keep your hands parallel and directly above your shoulders or bring them together (as long as you don’t have shoulder injuries). 

Step 7: Relax in the pose for a few breaths. To exit the pose simply relax your belly and fold forward back into runners lunge. 

Modifications to Warrior I Pose

There are several modifications you can make to both make this pose easier as well as to deepen the pose. 

  • One of the more difficult parts of this pose is keeping your back heel on the floor during the pose. If this is the case for you, it can help to place your heel on a sandbag or yoga bolster
  • If you suffer from tight hips, step your front-facing foot out further and towards the outside edge of your yoga mat. You can step your feet as far apart as necessary to keep your balance and square your hips until you build your flexibility.
  • If you have tight shoulders, you can keep your arms shoulder-width apart while they’re raised.
  • If you have shoulder injuries keep your hands on your hips rather than raising them up.

Benefits of Warrior I Pose 

  • Stretches the muscles on the front of your body, opens the lungs, stretches the chest, abdomen, shoulders, and neck.
  • Strengthens the thighs, shoulders, ankles, and back.
  • Standing in this pose builds balance, stamina, and coordination.
  • Tones the muscles of the abdomen.
  • Strengthens muscles in your ankles and feet.
  • Increases energy by expanding the lungs and deepening the breath.
  • Maybe therapeutic for sciatic pain.
  • Improves circulation and flexibility.

Cautions 

There aren’t many cautions or contradictions to this or most yoga poses. However, it’s best to avoid or have supervision if:

  • You have high blood pressure
  • Heart problems
  • Neck problems (keep your head in a neutral position)
  • Shoulder injuries (don’t raise your arms above your head. You can raise them so they’re parallel to each other within your limitations and comfort. 
  • Recent or chronic injuries to your hips, back, or knees

Tips

When you perform the Warrior I pose the first few times, you’ll be inclined to tilt forward when you bend your front knee. This compresses the lower back/spine which reduces the benefits and can cause pain. Instead, picture your pelvis like a cup full of water. As you bend at the knee, bend the pubis up towards your belly button and keep your tailbone down. You want to keep your pelvis parallel to the floor so that the water doesn’t spill from the cup.

It can help to place your hands on your hips to ensure they’re square and parallel to the floor. You also want to make sure that your weight is evenly distributed through both of your feet. Mentally check in with each foot ensuring you have even weight distribution through your big toe, small toe, and the ball of your foot. 

Preparation Yoga Poses 

Related Yoga Poses

  • Warrior III
  • Cobra Pose 
  • Sphinx Pose 
  • Back Bends
  • Humble Warrior Pose 
  • Reverse Warrior 

Pose Information

  • Sanskrit name: Virabhadrasana I
  • Difficulty: Beginner
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