Warrior I Pose
The Sanskrit name or translation is Virabhadrasana. The breakdown for the Sanskrit name is as follows, “Virabhadra” meaning “Warrior” and “Asana” meaning “Posture or Pose”.
Virabhadrasana can be used in many creative ways and offers a wide range of sister poses and variations. The pose can be challenging and offers a healthy amount of benefits for the practicing yogi.
Benefits Of The Pose:
This standing yoga pose may be considered a beginner level posture, but rest assured it’s a strong posture that will test your endurance and strength. Benefits of the pose are numerous and include strengthening the legs, arms, ankles and muscles of the back. This pose will also offer a nice stretch for the chest, neck, shoulders and abdomen.
Some students may also experience an improvement in posture because this pose can strengthen the upper body as well as open the chest. Improving posture can be very beneficial for our daily health by keeping bones and joints in proper alignment which relieves stress on the body.
Strengthening the back in this posture also creates a variety of health benefits. A strong back and shoulders is likely to help prevent you from slumping which can lead to neck and shoulder pain. Obviously, slumping with a rounded back is also not considered aesthetically pleasing.
All Warrior Family poses can also help with building confidence and stability. These poses force us to stand our ground firmly with our shoulders pulled back and head held high. Some may even discover a sense of inner strength and courage while practicing the pose.
This posture can also help to open your hips, improve blood circulation, and challenge your balance.
Flexes The Hips
Opens The Chest
Build Stamina & Endurance
Strengthens Legs & Ankles
Prep & Follow Up Poses:
It’s probably most common to follow up this pose with another member of the Warrior Family of poses, such as Warrior II or Warrior III Pose. Transitioning from standard Warrior into Warrior III can provide quite the challenge for even advanced yoga students.
Modifications & Cautions:
As a standing pose, this posture can naturally test your lower body strength and endurance. As a result, there are a few cautions to keep in mind before practicing the pose.
Avoid the pose if you have any recent or chronic injuries to your hips, back, knees and shoulders. Neck issues could also be problematic in this pose. Always allow any injuries to fully heal before heading back to your yoga mat.
Other good reasons to skip this posture include high blood pressure and diarrhea.
The pose can be modified in a variety of ways. Normally the pose is practiced with heal to heal alignment, but you can always spread the feet a bit wider for a more stable base. Another common modification is to grasp your hands together behind your lower back and then lean forward bringing your shoulder to the inside of your bent knee, this will transition you to Humble Warrior Pose.
If comfortable, you can try sitting deeper into the pose for a better hamstring stretch, but be aware of your front knee alignment over the ankle.
Try not to lean forward in the pose keeping your torso straight, relax your shoulders down your back while keeping your arms by the ears. Remember to protect your knee by keeping it aligned over the ankle. Keep your big toe to the inside of your bent knee, you should be able to view your big toe while holding the pose.
Spread your feet a little further apart to help with balance if needed, but try to stay in heal to heal alignment otherwise. Keep your gaze forward or look upward to challenge your balance.
If you feel pain in the back knee or ankle, try to point the toes forward like you would in Crescent Pose.
You can focus on the use of your bandhas to increase your body stability in this posture. Bandha is a term from Hatha Yoga meaning “body locks”. There are 4 specific bandhas which include the Mula Bandha, Uddiyana Bandha, Jalandhara Bandha, and Maha Bandha (Combination Of The Other Three). In this pose, you should engage the Uddiyana (Abdominal Lock) and the Mula (Area Between The Tailbone and Pubic Arch).
There are a variety of ways to transition into this pose, for our purpose we will start near the head of your mat in Mountain Pose or standing with your feet together.
We will start with the right side or right leg. Step your right foot and leg backward about 4 to 5 feet depending on your height and leg length.
On your back foot, turn the toes out at about 45 degrees with your foot placed flat on the ground. Keep the outer edge or pinky edge of the foot flat on the earth.
Align your feet heal to heal.
Now, bend your left knee while keeping your knee over top of the ankle. Place your hands on your hips and square the hips and shoulders toward the front of the mat. Don’t allow your front knee to move to the left or right of your ankle.
Lengthen your spine and slowly raise your hands above your head with your arms along your ears.
Allow your shoulders to draw down your back and engage your core.
Keep your hands shoulder distance apart. If you wish, you may place the hands together and gaze upward for more of a challenge.
Hold the posture for possibly 10 breaths and then exit the pose by stepping back to the head of your mat or transitioning to another pose.