Warrior 2 Pose

Virabhadrasana II

"Master your breath, let the self be in bliss, contemplate on the sublime within you." - T. Krishnamacharya

Warrior 2 Pose

HOW TO PRACTICE Warrior II Pose IN YOGA (Virabhadrasana II)

Benefits, How to Instructions, Modifications, and Common Alignment Mistakes for Warrior II Pose


Warrior II Pose (Virabhadrasana II)

Warrior II Pose (Sanskrit name: Virabhadrasana II) is a standing asana that requires integration of the entire body in order to achieve both stability and lightness.

The key action in Warrior II involves the combined external rotation of the front thigh and the extension of the back leg. Gazing over the front arm adds an element of balance work.

Warrior II is a powerful preparatory yoga pose for other standing asanas that require external rotation of the front thigh, including Trikonasana (Triangle Pose), Parsvakonasana (Side Angle Pose), and Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon Pose). 

In the past, a common instruction for assuming this yoga pose was to keep the hips “squared to the front.” We now recognize the repercussions of forcing your hips into “flat” alignment, including risk to the knee, hip and sacroiliac (SI) joints.  

Instead of forcing the hips into the traditional squared alignment, we recommend allowing the back hip to rotate forward a bit. The back leg will now be in a position of extension from the hip, with less pure-plane abduction. When practiced in this way, Warrior II becomes a powerful, steady and structurally sound yoga posture.

Because all our hip joints are constructed differently, the degree of rotation in the back hip and leg will look different for everyone. The most reliable way to ensure that the rotation of the hip, leg and foot are in healthy alignment is to feel it from the inside. When both legs and hips are in healthy alignment, the weight can be evenly distributed between both legs and all the joints—hips, knees and ankles—will feel congruent.

Benefits of Warrior II Pose

Warrior II Pose (Virabhadrasana II)

Warrior II strengthens the front leg and hip, creating length in the inner thigh while strengthening the outer hip, quadriceps, buttocks, and lower leg. The back leg should also engage strongly to keep the pose grounded. The back thigh and buttock will also gain strength as you hold Warrior II. The yoga pose can be stable and relaxed if both legs are bearing weight equally.

With the lower body grounded and stable, the upper body can extend upward more freely. With the shoulder girdle engaged and the core held secure, the entire core and upper body is strengthened. The arms radiate out from the center, floating above the ground, while the eyes gaze steadily over the front hand. The shoulders and upper back muscles gain definition and strength from the effort of Warrior II. 

Internally, Warrior II requires a focused, calm mind and steady breathing in order to hold the asana without straining. As you continuously ground down through the lower body, the torso and ribcage can expand to allow the breath to be free and fluid, making it both an energizing and calming yoga pose. Practicing Warrior II can cultivate mental focus and stability. 

How to do Warrior 2 Pose

Warrior II Pose (Virabhadrasana II)

  1. Start standing in Tadasana (Mountain Pose) with your hands on the hips. Press down actively through your feet as you lift both the front and back ribcage up away from the pelvis. 
  2. Now step or lightly hop your feet wide apart, so they are about as wide as your wrists are when your arms are extended out from your shoulders.
  3. Lift the ball of your right foot and rotate your foot outward about 90 degrees, without forcing it. Make sure that the center of your right thigh, knee, shin and foot are aligned with each other.
  4. Lift the heel of your left foot and rotate it slightly outward, so your thigh moves toward an internal rotation. Rotate your pelvis toward the front thigh. Reach your back foot down into the floor until you feel your left foot grounding strongly.

    Note: The rotation of the pelvis and leg will look different for each individual. Align the pose based on how it feels, rather than how it looks. Your hips should feel steady and at ease without any sensation of torque in your knees or ankles. In determining the proper rotation of the pelvis and leg, some people find it helpful to sense a connection between the back heel and the ischial tuberosity (aka “sit bone”) of that same side of the pelvis.
  5. With your weight evenly distributed on both legs, ground through your feet and lengthen your spine. From this position of stability, bend your front knee so the shin comes to a vertical or near-vertical position.
  6. On an inhalation, extend the arms out from the shoulders keeping your fingertips lower than your shoulders. Look out over the front fingers.
  7. Check in with your back leg. Make sure it is engaged and working to stabilize the pose. Think of pressing the back edge of your foot into the ground.
  8. Stay here for 5 to 10 deep breaths, allowing your pelvis to feed down into the legs and feeling the upper body rise up out of the pelvis.
  9. To leave the yoga pose, press your right foot into the floor and straighten your right knee. Turn your feet to parallel, release your arms and take a few breaths before moving to the second side.

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