How to do Warrior II
Whether you bend with the best of them or you’re just getting into the yoga flow, we could all use a little brush up on how to do Warrior II. It’s a staple in many yoga classes (and for good reason!).
Warrior II, or Virabhadrasana (veer-uh-buh-DRAHS-uh-nuh) II, is a standing pose that opens the hips and strengthens the entire lower body. It tones and tightens the thighs and glutes, abs and even strengthens the arches in your feet. When isometrically held for a few breaths it’s a great way to build stamina (a nice way of saying feel the burn!).
It’s named after an incarnation of Shiva, a fierce warrior, which apparently had a thousand heads, a thousand eyes, and a thousand feet, wielding a thousand clubs, and wearing a tiger's skin. Sounds like a fitting name if you ask us!
How to do Warrior II:
- Start standing in Mountain Pose.
- On your exhale, take your right foot back about 3 to 4 feet. The distance is based on your height, length of your legs and how open your hips are.
- Turn your toes to the right and place your foot on the mat. The outside edge of your foot should be parallel with the back of the mat. If you drew a line from the heel of your left (front) foot to your right (back) foot, it would intersect it at the arch. Press down firmly into the outside edge of the back foot to avoid collapsing the arch.
- Inhale and extend your arms out at shoulder height, palms facing down. Relax the shoulders down your back and gaze out over your left middle finger.
- Bend the left (front) knee until it stacks directly above the left ankle. Your quad will be perpendicular to the ground. Make sure your knee tracks in line with your second and third toe so it does not collapse in (which we all have a tendency to do!).
- With your hips open to the right, scoop your tailbone under slightly. Take your belly button in toward your spine and then up toward your ribs.
- Hold and focus on your breath. Then switch sides.
Keep in mind:
- We all have a tendency to allow the front knee to collapse inward. Be mindful and line the kneecap up with the second toe.
- We also have a tendency to lean forward. Stack your shoulders on top of your hips to avoid this.
- Strengthen the arms by actively reaching them apart to create one long line of energy from fingertip to fingertip.
- This is a fierce pose (hence the name!) but bring a gentle mind and leave expectations at the door. If it’s too intense, make your stance a little bit shorter (but make sure the front knee does not extend beyond the front ankle).