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How to practice Warrior One

How to practice Warrior One

What is Virabhadrasana One? 

Representing a mythological character created by Lord Shiva, Virabhadrasana One belongs to the set of standing warrior poses. It is dedicated to the warrior Virabhadra. According to Hindu mythology, Virabhadrasana one represents the way in which Virabhadra arrives, that is, holding a sword with both hands and making his way through the earth. A strength building posture, Virabhadrasana One is symbolic of being a fighter with grace and beauty. 

Virabhadrasana is a grounding yoga posture, which means that it activates and balances the earth element. The posture works on the ankles, shoulders, thighs, back, arms and calves, strengthening and stretching the muscles and tissues. It also opens up the chest region, stretching the thorax and lungs

Position type: Standing lunge 

Posture type: Strengthen

Ideal for: Strength

Targets: Legs, back, arms, shoulders

Pose level: Beginner

How to prepare for Warrior One

Legs and Core strength

While Warrior One itself helps you build strength, working on leg and core strength with other exercises is also helpful. With better strength and stamina you will be able to hold the posture for longer as well as improve alignment. You can also practice Virabhadrasana One as a preparatory pose for more challenging yoga asanas. A few good postures are the swaying palm tree pose, standing spinal twist, chair pose and the boat pose. Regular practice of Surya Namaskars are also helpful. 

Balance and flexibility

As this is a lunge, better balance and flexibility is also greatly helpful. Practice yoga asanas such as the standing forward fold, garland pose, low lunge, high lunge, tree pose and eagle pose

How to do Virabhadrasana One 

Getting into the posture

  • Stand at the center of your mat. Now place your right foot at the front of your mat and left foot at the back. Your left foot should be turned outwards, about 90 degrees (or slightly less) and the hip points are facing the left side of your mat.
  • Align your front heel and back arch. Now gently bend the right knee so that it comes directly over the right ankle and your thigh is as close to being parallel to the floor as possible.
  • Keep your shoulders over your hips and extend your hands upwards directly over the shoulders. Your head faces the front of your mat. Take five to ten deep breaths while maintaining your alignment.

Getting out of the posture

  • To come out of the posture first lower your hands, then straighten the bent leg and gently come back to the center of the mat. 
  • Repeat the posture with the other foot forward.

Key alignments in Virabhadrasana One

  1. Ensure your arms are straight above the shoulders in one line. 
  2. Keep the chest open and shoulders pushed back. 
  3. Feet should be in one line and in a wide-stance. 

What are the benefits of Virabhadrasana One? 

This warrior pose strengthens and tones the legs, all the way from the ankles and calves to the thighs and hips. It also strengthens the back, arms and legs. It improves balance, stability and stamina. It also works effectively on the shoulders and upper back, releasing tightness, stress and stiffness. For those with a sedentary lifestyle, practicing the posture regularly for a minute or two helps release body stiffness. Given that Warrior One represents a brave fighter, the posture instills feelings of courage, grace and strength. 

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What are the contraindications of Virabhadrasana One?

For anyone with knee pain or a knee injury and back pain or spinal injury, it is best to avoid the posture until the pain has subsided. If you have shoulder pain, you can keep the hands down rather than raising them up. For those with arthritis, use the support of a chair or the wall when practicing. Anyone with heart problems or high blood pressure should avoid the posture. 

Counter poses of Virabhadrasana One

Practice the standing forward fold posture or sit in Dandasana for a few minutes. This will rest the legs and back after the intense stretch. 

Variations of Virabhadrasana One

Easy Variation

  • Rest the arms on the hips instead of raising them up. 
  • Keep the thigh of the bent leg at a slight angle instead of bringing it parallel to the floor. 

Advanced Variation

  • After coming into the posture and raising your hands, arch the back and push the chest out further. Bring the hands into namaste mudra. 

Advice for beginners

When practicing keep in mind the right alignment. Even if you can hold the pose only for a few breaths, the alignment is important. Ensure your knee is in-line with the foot (for the front leg) and hands are straight above the shoulders. 

Shvasa tips for Virabhadrasna One

  • Ensure you do a few leg stretches and warm-ups before practicing Warrior One. 
  • Keep your shoulders relaxed and not drawn up towards your ears. 
  • Practice gently in coordination with your breath. If you experience pain or tightness, immediately relax and try again.
How to practice Warrior One
Shvasa Editorial Team

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