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Virabhadrasana II (Warrior II Pose), named after Hindu god who incarnated as a human, enhances the strength and stamina of beginner and advanced yogis alike. In the pose, your front knee bends to create a stretch in your hips, your arms engage and extend straight out from your shoulders, and your gaze, or dristhi, remains calm and steady toward your front hand. It is the second of three poses dedicated to Virabhadra.
When you stay in the pose for any length of time, you strengthen your resolve and focus. Remain internally focused on your physical and mental sensations. Become aware of any discomfort and discern whether your desire to straighten your leg and release your arms comes from a physical need or a psychological want. Always act according to your need in the moment. This discernment is the discipline and strength of a true warrior.
Warrior II basics
Sanskrit: Virabhadrasana II (veer-ah-bah-DRAHS-anna)
Pose type: Standing posture
Why we love it: “Warrior II is one of those poses that is as strengthening and grounding as it is opening and lengthening—a rare combination. It makes me feel like a fierce goddess, patiently ready for battle. The way it opens my hips while strengthening my legs is unlike any other posture, and it’s one that I genuinely look forward to in any practice… I love that from [this pose] you can move almost anywhere—Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon), Utthitha Parsavakonasana (Extended Side Angle), Warrior I or III, or down and into another Sun Salutation. It’s an empowering home base that makes you feel like a warrior of light.” — Sahara Rose, author of Discover Your Dharma
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The standing posture opens your hips and strengthens and stretches your legs and ankles.
Warrior II: Step-by-step instructions
- Face the long side of your mat with your arms stretched straight out from your shoulders and your feet parallel to each other in a wide stance. You want your ankles approximately beneath your wrists.
- Turn your right foot and knee to face the front of the mat.
- Angle your left toes slightly in toward the upper left corner of the mat.
- Bend your right knee and stack it over your right ankle.
- Distribute your weight evenly between both legs. Press down through the outer edge of your back foot.
- Keep the crown of your head stacked over your pelvis and your shoulders over your hips.
- Reach strongly through both arms toward the front and back of the mat and turn your head to look past your right fingertips.
- Stay here for 5–10 breaths.
- To come out of the pose, exhale as you press down through your feet, then inhale and straighten your legs. Return your feet to parallel facing the left long side of the mat.
- Repeat on the other side.
Some teachers will ask you to bend your front knee to a 90-degree angle or bring your front thigh parallel to the mat. This is not essential. Pay attention instead to whether your front knee tends to fall inward toward the center of the mat. Resist this by drawing your knee toward the little-toe side of your foot.
Variation: Warrior II against a wall
To help maintain your balance in this pose, practice it with a block between your thigh and a wall. Press your thigh into the block for stability. This variation also trains your front knee to not collapsing in toward the center of your body.