In honor of Christmas and inspired by my recent resolutions to be more active with my yoga practice, this is the first of twelve post in the series: 12 Days of Yoga where I will break down a different pose, the benefits and more information that will hopefully be useful to you!
Without further ado,
Virabhadrasana I (Warrior I Pose)
(Image Source: Yoga Journal)
A move of moderate intensity, Warrior I is usually found in beginner-intermediate sequences, and is often very necessary in advanced courses in preparation for more strenuous poses, including Virabhadrasana III (Warrior III Pose).
To practice Warrior I, begin a Sun Salutation as normal. When you exhale your right foot back into Runner’s Stretch, gain your balance by flexing your muscles into the midline and inhale arms up overhead and lightly arch back, looking up to the sky. Hold for one breath and on the exhale, lower your hands slowly back to either side of your front foot. Continue your Sun Salutation and be sure to repeat on the opposite side to maintain balance.
Before practicing, be sure to warm up with other asanas to prepare your muscles, particularly your hips, abdominals, chest and shoulders for this specific pose. Good asanas to start with are Tadasana (Mountain Pose), Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose), Anjaneyasana (Low Lunge Pose), and Virasana (Hero Pose).
It is also important to perform counterposes throughout your sequence in order to undo any strain that may occur from certain poses. Good counterposes include Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (Upward Facing Dog Pose), Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose), Balasana (Child’s Pose), and Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclined Bound Angle Pose).
Some other important notes: maintain your alignment! This pose can definitely be dangerous if you are unaware of the proper alignment of your skeleton. In particular, pay attention to your knees and ankles- it does take muscular energy to keep your knee tracking over your ankle, in line with your foot. If your knee is farther forward, this can cause injury.
This pose has many benefits: strengthens your legs, ankles, feet and core; it also opens the hips, chest and abdominals.
Be present and aware of your body, have fun, and namaste!
Reference: Stephens, M. “Yoga Sequencing”. North Atlantic Books; Berkeley, 2012.
“The Health Benefits of Virabhadrasana I”. Retrieved from http://www.cnyhealingarts.com/2011/05/20/the-health-benefits-of-virabhadrasana-i-warrior-i-pose/