Virabhadra = the name of a fierce warrior, an incarnation of Shiva, described as having a thousand heads, a thousand eyes, and a thousand feet, wielding a thousand clubs, and wearing a tiger's skin
Warrior II Pose: Step-by-Step Instructions
Stand in Tadasana (Mountain Pose). With an exhalation, step or lightly jump your feet 3 1/2 to 4 feet apart. Raise your arms parallel to the floor and reach them actively out to the sides, shoulder blades wide, palms down.
See also More Poses for Building Strength
Turn your right foot slightly to the right and your left foot out to the left 90 degrees. Align the left heel with the right heel. Firm your thighs and turn your left thigh outward so that the center of the left knee cap is in line with the center of the left ankle.
Exhale and bend your left knee over the left ankle, so that the shin is perpendicular to the floor. If possible, bring the left thigh parallel to the floor. Anchor this movement of the left knee by strengthening the right leg and pressing the outer right heel firmly to the floor.
See also More Standing Poses
Stretch the arms away from the space between the shoulder blades, parallel to the floor. Don't lean the torso over the left thigh: Keep the sides of the torso equally long and the shoulders directly over the pelvis. Press the tailbone slightly toward the pubis. Turn the head to the left and look out over the fingers.
See also Four Poses for Greater Balance
Stay for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Inhale to come up. Reverse the feet and repeat for the same length of time to the left.
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Watch a demonstration of Warrior II Pose
Contraindications and Cautions
- High blood pressure
- Neck problems: Don't turn your head to look over the front hand; continue to look straight ahead with both sides of the neck lengthened evenly.
Modifications and Props
If you have difficulty supporting yourself in this pose, position a metal folding chair outside your left leg, with the front edge of the chair seat facing you. As you bend the left knee to come into the pose, slide the front edge of the seat under your left thigh (taller students may need to build up the height of the chair seat with a thickly folded blanket). Repeat with the right leg bent.
Deepen the Pose
To increase the length and strength of the arms in the pose, turn the palms and inner elbow creases to face the ceiling while you draw the shoulder blades down the back. Then maintaining the rotation of the arms, turn the palms from the wrists to face the floor again.
When you bend the left knee to a right angle, bend it very quickly with an expressive exhalation, and aim the inside of the left knee toward the little-toe side of the left foot.
- Strengthens and stretches the legs and ankles
- Stretches the groins, chest and lungs, shoulders
- Stimulates abdominal organs
- Increases stamina
- Relieves backaches, especially through second trimester of pregnancy
- Therapeutic for carpal tunnel syndrome, flat feet, infertility, osteoporosis, and sciatica
A partner can help you strengthen your back leg. Have your partner stand behind your back leg. Loop a strap around your inner groin, and as you bend the front knee into the pose, your partner can pull firmly on the strap while you resist the back-leg inner groin away from that movement. Feel how this helps to open the groins.
In the description above, the shoulders are centered over the pelvis with the sides of the torso equally long. You can also lean the torso slightly away from the left leg, tilting the arms parallel to the line of the top shoulders. This stretches the left side of the torso. Repeat on the right side.