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As a yoga teacher, a large part of my sequencing process is asking, “Where can I go from here?”
It can be easy to get stuck in a rut when it comes to transitioning from one yoga pose to the next. Keeping myself open to all possibilities related to any pose is essential to be able to truly know the depths and connections in my body—and to be able to relate this to my students. That means physically moving and playing within each posture while remaining curious as to the most intuitive place to take myself next.
As you add a transition or create a sequence, it’s important to remember your “why.” Ask yourself if it’s safe and if it helps prepare you or your students for your peak posture or your overall theme. A transition is only truly worthwhile if it helps cultivate what you’re aiming to create with your sequence.
This applies to any pose. You’ll find my favorite unexpected transitions from Virabhadrasana 3 (Warrior 3) in the video and the instructions that follow.
13 ways to go from Warrior 3
From Warrior 3 to a standing pose at the front of the mat
This is probably the simplest and most common way to sequence Warrior 3: Simply make your way into any standing posture that faces the front of the mat.
Begin in Warrior 3. Bring a slight bend to your standing knee and keep your weight centered over that foot. Slowly draw your lifted knee into your chest as you stand upright, stacking your spine over your hips. From this position, you can easily transition into any standing posture, including:
Vriksasana (Tree Pose)
Place your lifted foot onto your ankle, shin, or inner thigh. Once in place, engage the glutes and energetically draw the lifted knee away from your body to encourage more external rotation in your hips.
Natarajasana (Dancer Pose)
Take your lifted foot toward the glutes and grab hold of your ankle. Kick the foot into the hand as you slowly lift your chest slightly forward and up. Extend your opposite arm in front of you.
Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana (Extended Hand-to-Big Toe Pose)
Bring your peace finger and thumb around the big toe of your lifted foot. Place your opposite hand on your hip for stability. Begin to straighten your lifted leg in front of you as you keep your heart and head stacked over the pelvis. Ensure there’s no tension in your shoulders by drawing the shoulder blades down your back.
From Warrior 3 on one leg to the other standing leg
Warrior 3 to Warrior 3
I call this “The Switcharoo.” This is a great way to introduce variety within a flow and transition to the other side without taking yourself or students through a vinyasa.
“The Switcheroo” begins very similarly to the transition above. Center your weight over your standing foot by keeping a slight bend in the front leg. Lift your chest slightly forward and start to draw your lifted knee toward your chest, then place your lifted foot down at the top of the mat alongside your standing foot. With this transition, keep your chest low and your knees bent as you shift your weight onto the opposite foot and lift your standing leg off the floor and extend that leg behind you into Warrior 3. Creating and keeping a lower center of gravity in this transition is essential in order to aid in the shifting of weight and balance.
From Warrior 3 to facing the side of the mat
Transitioning to the long side of the mat from Warrior 3 is a great way to move from a closed to open hip position. Here are my favorites.
Virabhadrasana II (Warrior II)
From Warrior 3, reach your extended leg as far back as possible. Slowly increase the bend in your front leg and place the ball of your back foot on the ground. Keep the majority of the weight in your front leg as you angle the back foot and press down through its outer edge. Lift your chest, bring your arms to a T, and arrive in Warrior II!
Skandasana (Side Lunge)
From Warrior 3, reach your extended leg as far back as possible. Slowly increase the bend in your front leg and place the ball of your back foot on the ground. Keep the majority of the weight in your front leg as you rotate the back foot out 45 degrees. Lift your chest and straighten your legs as you turn toward the side of the mat. Begin to shift your weight to your back foot, bending your back knee and pushing the weight to the outside edge of the foot while keeping your chest lifted.
From Warrior 3, reach your extended leg as far back as possible. Slowly increase the bend in your front leg and place the ball of your back foot on the ground. Keep the majority of the weight in your front leg as you lift your chest and straighten your legs as you turn toward the long side of the mat. Bring both feet parallel to one another. Start to hinge forward from your hips, draping your upper body over your lower body to arrive in your forward fold.
From Warrior 3 to the back of the mat
Transitioning to the back of the mat from Warrior 3 challenges your coordination and stability. For each of these transitions, create as much height in your body as you switch directions.This gives you the time and physical space needed to shift your weight and control your movement.
From Warrior 3, take a small step back with your lifted leg. Begin to lift your chest and pivot on the heel of the front foot to turn your body and square your hips toward the back of the mat. Once your hips are squared and your back foot angled slightly in, turn your front toes straight in front of you. With a flat back, fold over your front leg.
From Warrior 3, reach your lifted leg as far back as possible. Slowly increase the bend in your front knee and place the ball of your back foot on the ground. Begin to turn your body to the back of the mat and center the weight on top of the pelvis. As you do this, turn your back foot 90 degrees to face the long side of the mat and turn your front foot to face the back of the mat. Bend your front knee and extend your arms in a T for Warrior II.
From Warrior 3, take a big step back with your lifted leg. Begin to lift your chest and pivot on the ball of your front foot to turn your body and square your hips toward the back of the mat. As you square the hips, turn your front toes toward the back of the mat and begin to bend that knee to stabilize the weight over that leg. Lean forward slightly, keeping a long spine, and either take your hands into prayer with your left elbow outside of your right knee or place your left hand beside your right foot while extending your left arm.
How to transition from Warrior 3 to seated
Transitioning to a seat is possibly my favorite transition of them all, due to the level of control and coordination it takes to get there—plus its FUN!
From Warrior 3, begin to bend both knees as you bring your back knee toward the mat. Lean back slightly and place your shin on the ground. Here’s where it gets fun. Lift your chest and bring the majority of your weight into that back knee, shin, and foot. Squeeze your glutes and set your drishti (gaze) on a spot in front of you as you begin to lift onto the tip toes of your front foot. Once you have your balance, extend the front leg out behind you and flex that foot as you place it down and bring your knee to the floor for support. If you’d like an extra challenge, try to reverse the action to take yourself back into Warrior 3.
Or any seated posture
Repeat the steps above, only now when you find yourself in your active Pigeon, lean toward the side of your bent leg. Slowly lower both glutes to the floor as you externally rotate your hips and bring your back leg out to the side and turn your body to face the long side of the mat. From here you can take it into any seated posture facing the front, back, or side of the mat. This could be almost any pose, including Janu Sirsasana (Head to Knee Pose), although let your intuition lead.
About our contributor
Sarah White is a continuing education provider based in Dubai. Her creative sequencing style is born from her own curiosity and exploration of the human body as well as her experience with many other movement disciplines. To learn more about Sarah, her courses, or upcoming Sequencing Teacher Trainings, check out withsarahwhite.com or follow her on instagram @Sar_white.