Warrior 3 Pose

Virabhadrasana III

"Yoga cultivates the ways of maintaining a balanced attitude in day-to-day life and endows skill in the performance of one's actions." - B.K.S. Iyengar

Warrior 3 Pose

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

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


Warrior III Pose (Virabhadrasana III) interlacing hands

Warrior III (Sanskrit name: Virabhadrasana III) is a challenging yoga pose to say the least. It will push you to your limits in terms of balance, flexibility, strength, and mental focus. It is one of the most challenging of the standing balance yoga postures. It calls upon many different alignment points from other asanas. 

Benefits of Warrior III Pose

It’s easy to see how practicing Virabhadrasana III strengthens the standing leg. But the back leg also benefits, because you have to engage the gluteal muscles to maintain the lift. This builds a great sense of where your body is in space (also known as proprioception), as you must extend your leg straight back from your hip (without seeing it!) to do this pose correctly. The hamstrings of the standing leg stretch deeply as you lift the back leg up. The outer hip muscles (external rotators) of the standing leg also get a big stretch as you draw the opposite hip toward the ground. 

The core muscles of the abdomen and spine work diligently to maintain the yoga pose, and the back muscles that stabilize the spine grow strong from practicing Warrior III. Extending the arms by the ears strengthens the shoulders, and adds even more challenge to the core muscles and spinal extensors. 

Maintaining this asana requires a great deal of focus. Like all balance poses, Warrior III will build energy and focus in the mind and body. As the name implies, this is a powerful yoga posture that brings you straight to the battlefield, so to speak, as it confronts even experienced yogis with physical and mental demands.

How to do Warrior 3 Pose

  1. Stand in Tadasana (Mountain Pose) with your feet hips-width apart at the front end of your yoga mat.
  2. Take a moment to feel your feet on the floor. Shift your weight forward and back, and side to side, to find the weight of your body centered over your feet. 
  3. Place your hands on your hips. Feel the connection from your feet all the way through your legs, hips, and spine. Grow taller out the top of your head.
  4. Continue grounding down through your right foot as you begin to lift your left foot and leg off the ground. 
  5. Move your body forward as one piece, bringing your torso forward as your back leg lifts. Bring your body into one long line toward an orientation that’s perpendicular to your standing leg.
  6. Extend your arms outward from your shoulders at a 90-degree angle to your torso. Alternatively, you can extend the arms alongside the torso, so that your palms face your hips. The most challenging arm variation is to extend your arms out in front of you, next to your ears, so that they are parallel to the ground and each other.
  7. Lift your left leg and shoulders up toward the sky. Take care not to lift your head. Instead, lengthen the back of your neck so that you are looking at the ground.
  8. Stay for 5 or more deep breaths.
  9. To release the yoga posture, mindfully raise your body to an upright position as you lower your left foot to the floor.
  10. Stand in Tadasana, taking in the effects of the asana. How do your legs feel now? Where is the sensation the strongest? Does any part of your body feel strained? If so, set an intention to practice the yoga pose on the second side without straining.  
  11. Repeat on the other side.

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