Pose of the Month: Warrior One

Virabhadrasana I

A pose of fire, bravery and virtue, Warrior One is highly recognizable from the beginning yogi to the advanced. As one of the first poses learned in yoga, it allows the practitioner to feel their grounding and set their intention for practice while building heat.

How To: Warrior One

Start in a standing straddle pose on your mat. Make the distance between your feet approximately the length of one of your legs. Turn the right foot out 90 degrees, and turn the left foot in 45 to 60 degrees. Be cautious of grounding the outer edge of your left foot. Slowly rotate your hips around toward the front of your mat until both hips are squared front. Your hips bones will face forward as well as your shoulders.

Bend the right knee until the right thigh is parallel to the ground and your front (right) knee is 90 degrees. This position will ensure safety of the knee. Plug both feet full into the ground. As your lower body descends, feel your upper body lengthen and rise. Slowly extend your arms straight up and rotate the arms so your palms face each other. Feel tall and lifted but be sure to relax your shoulders, getting them out of your ears. Do not over arch the back. Lower the tailbone toward the floor. Feel every limb of your body elongate and expand.

Make sure your right knee stays pointing straight ahead over your right foot. Breathe normally and feel your inner warrior. Feel the removal of all your obstacles.

Benefits of Warrior One

The role of Warrior One is vast. Done properly and consistently, the most noticeable benefits include:

  • Increased flexibility in the hips and shoulders with enhanced stability
  • Toned abdominal organs
  • Ability to face life with an open heart
  • Increased strength in legs, and back
  • Increased strength in your ankles
  • Relieved back pain and sciatica
For the lay person or yogi, Warrior One teaches you to stay in the moment. Focusing your eyes and breathe. The pose teaches you to descend your lower body while lifting and getting a feeling of lightness through your upper body. You will learn to expand your chest and increase your lung capacity. It is the definition of dynamic opposition.

For the athlete, this pose is a vigorous and challenging one. Athletes are our modern day warriors. In this pose they will greatly improve strength in their legs, ankles, feet, and shoulders. At the same time they will improve the flexibility of those body parts. Strength and flexibility equal power.

Therefore, Warrior One will help athletes increase speed, agility, and quickness. It will help the sportsmen build power in their spine and shoulders and leave them less vulnerable in aggressive game situations, such as a football tackle or a forceful tennis serve.

Holding this pose focuses the mind on expanding the ribs for greater lung capacity. This will clearly benefit the athlete who suffers from exercise-induced asthma, or a highly aerobic soccer player.

Although you should always consult your physician and research a properly trained teacher before starting a yoga practice, there are a few instances where you should avoid this pose entirely, especially if you have:

  • High blood pressure
  • Cardiac conditions
  • History of stroke
  • Serious knee and lower back pain
Have fun exploring this pose and learning about your body.
Gwen Lawrence has been a practicing fitness professional since 1990. Her current practice includes private yoga training, class instruction and her sport-specific Power Yoga for Sports training program www.poweryogaforsports.com. Gwen’s unique combination of dance, massage and yoga training experience, coupled with her extensive knowledge of anatomy, nutrition and homeopathy, provide her clients, class participants and athletes with overwhelming benefits. Gwen is the yoga instructor for several New York Yankees baseball players, team yoga instructor for the New York Giants, New York Knicks, New York Red Bulls, and the Pace University baseball team; as well as many youth teams in a variety of sports. Visit her website at www.yogawithgwen.com

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