Virabhadra = hero or warrior · Asana = pose
Cultivates self-confidence, dynamism, and feelings of joy; counteracts the effects of sitting by elongating the hip flexors, stretching the anterior spine, and engaging the hips, legs, ankles, and feet
1. Begin in Tadasana (Mountain Pose), with your feet together and arms at your sides. Jump or step your legs 3–4 feet apart, or wide enough that when you spread your arms to your sides at shoulder height, your wrists line up over your ankles.
2. On an inhale, raise your arms alongside your ears. Point your fingertips to the sky and join your palms while keeping your elbows straight. Simultaneously press down and into the inner and outer edges of your feet. Use the dynamic lifting action of your arms to maintain length in your sides.
3. Without losing this dynamic lift, turn your right foot out 90 degrees and your left foot in 30–60 degrees. Revolve the left outer calf, thigh, and hip forward as much as possible while pressing into your left heel. Draw your right outer hip back and in toward your midline without losing the downward pressure of the inner edge of your right foot.
4. On an exhale, bend your right knee to a right angle so it’s over your ankle. Your right thigh will be parallel to the floor—or nearly so. Continue to press into your left heel and to reach upward with your arms. It might be difficult to keep your left heel down while you rotate that leg and your trunk. Reach back through the center of your left heel, even if the outer heel lifts a bit.
5. Let your hips descend as you lift through your arms. It’s OK for your back to arch a little—Warrior I is a bit of a backbend! Lift your side and back ribs as you reach through or even “beyond” your fingertips. If your neck supports it, tilt your head back and look up. Stay in the pose for 30 seconds with normal breathing. Repeat on the other side.
DON’T lean forward and into the front knee. Instead, keep the knee directly over the ankle to protect and stabilize the joint.
DON’T aggressively tuck your tailbone. It creates tension, constricting the breath and blocking energetic flow from your back heel to your head.
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About our Pro
Carrie Owerko is a New York–based Senior Iyengar Yoga teacher, Laban Movement Analyst, and playful-practice enthusiast. She travels the world sharing her love of inquiry and the practice of Iyengar Yoga.