Yoga Anatomy: A Simple Trick to Align Your Pelvis in Warrior I (Virabhadrasana I)

Yoga often happens in millimeters. This means that relatively small adjustments can produce some of the most important openings and energetic shifts. In this blog post, I describe a cue to refine the pelvis in the asana, Virabhadrasana 1 (Warrior 1 Pose), concluding with a brief discussion of the biomechanics of this adjustment.

How to Cue the Pelvis in Warrior 1 Pose

In Warrior 1, press the back foot into the mat and attempt to drag it toward the midline (adduction). You will feel the pelvis turn forward to “square” with the front leg. Figures 1 and 2 illustrate this action, with its effect on the pelvis.

A skeleton figure demonstrating pressing foot into the mat in Warrior 1 yoga pose (Virabhadrasana I)

(Figure 1: Press the foot into the mat and then attempt to drag it toward the midline. This engages the adductor magnus.)

The Biomechanics of Virabhadrasana I

In Warrior 1, the back leg is in extension. The prime mover muscle for this action is the gluteus maximus. One of the synergists for extending the hip is the adductor magnus muscle.

Attempting to drag the foot towards the midline engages this muscle in the pose. The foot remains constrained on the mat and does not actually move; however, the force of contracting the adductor magnus decreases the angle between the femur and the pelvis, as shown. The result is that the pelvis turns (instead of the foot moving). In addition, the hip extends more effectively.

All of this produces a unique opening in the front of the pelvis that stretches the hip flexors, including the psoas muscle (figure 3).
A skeleton figure illustrating dragging the foot toward the midline in Warrior 1 yoga pose (Virabhadrasana I)

(Figure 2: This illustrates engaging the adductor magnus by attempting to drag the foot towards the midline. The mat constrains the foot, and the force of contraction turns the pelvis.)

A skeleton figure showing the muscles of the back hip stretching in Warrior 1 yoga pose (Virabhadrasana I)

(Figure 3: This illustrates the flexor muscles of the back hip stretching.)

Use this adjustment after “setting” the feet. These cues can be combined with co-activation of the hip stabilizers for the front leg, as described previously for Virabhadrasana 2 (Warrior 2 Pose).

Finally, “ease into” your movements when working with cues such as this. Build muscular engagement gradually to turn the pelvis; then gradually release it as you come out of the pose.


This article originally appeared in Daily Bandha. Reprinted with permission.

YogaUOnline contributor Ray Long MDAuthor, Ray Long MD, FRCSC is a board certified orthopedic surgeon and the founder of Bandha Yoga. Ray graduated from The University of Michigan Medical School with post-graduate training at Cornell University, McGill University, The University of Montreal and Florida Orthopedic Institute. He has studied hatha yoga for over twenty years, training extensively with B.K.S. Iyengar and other leading yoga masters.                 

YogaUOnline contributor Chris Macivor

3d Graphic Designer / Illustrator Chris Macivor has been involved in the field of digital content creation for well over ten years. He is a graduate of Etobicoke School of the Arts, Sheridan College and Seneca College. Chris considers himself to be equally artistic and technical in nature. As such his work has spanned many genres from film and television to videogames and underwater imagery.         

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