Yoga Basic Poses 101—Warrior Two–Challenge yourself with Virabhadrasana Two, a yoga pose that strengthens & tones the arms, shoulders, hips, legs, thighs of the body.
Virabhadrasana is the warrior pose.
Virabhadra = name of a fierce warrior, an incarnation of Lord Shiva
Asana = Pose
Virabhadrasana Two or the Warrior Two pose comes at the end of the standing sequence in the Ashtanga Yoga Primary Series, usually after Virabhadrasana One or Warrior One pose. Virabhadrasana Two strengthens many parts of the body. From my own personal experience, it also increases stamina and endurance.
Step by Step into Warrior Two Pose
Begin at Tadasana. Step the left foot back about 1 metre, extend the arms out at shoulder height and turn palms to face down. Have heel to heel alignment, and turn the back foot at about 10-20 degrees. The hips and torso are open to the side, keeping the shoulders over the hips. Bend into the front knee and track the knee over the ankle, towards the pinkie toe to get more of a hip opening.
Arms are strong and engaged, widen the shoulders, let the neck and shoulders be free, roll the shoulder blades down the back.
Chest and heart are open, spine is straight.
With palms facing downwards, keep fingers together, and drishti (gaze) is over the front middle finger. Keep the awareness in the fingers, letting the energy channel through them.
Feel connected to the ground through the ball of the big toe—see if you can have a 90-degree bend in the front knee. Externally rotate both thighs to get a nice opening in the hips. Draw the tailbone down while trying to keep the pelvis neutral, and keep the ribs from flaring by drawing them in as if you were wearing a corset. Arms are parallel to the ground, keep extending and lengthening, keeping arms fully engaged and strong.
Mouth and jaw are soft and relaxed, have a soft palate in the mouth. Breath is smooth and deep, breath with sound. Hold the pose for five or more long, deep breaths.
On an inhale, straighten the front knee, and on an exhale, pivot the heels to turn towards the back of your mat. Repeat the same movements on the other side. When finished, come back to Tadasana or try a variation such as Reverse Warrior.
Virabhradrasana Two is an extremely energizing and invigorating pose. It cultivates a lot of energy. See if you can draw everything inwards to the centre, the core of your being. Really feel the core working, and more importantly, the bandhas. Make sure you have the good engagement of the pelvic floor muscles, and the lower belly is drawn in.
Practice Warrior Two pose regularly to get these benefits to the body.
- Strengthens shoulders, arms, thighs, legs, and ankles
- Stretches groin, thighs, ankles
- Expands chest, lungs, and shoulders
- Stimulates abdominal organs
- Relieves a backache, especially through the second trimester of pregnancy
- Therapeutic benefits for those with carpal tunnel syndrome, osteoporosis, flat feet, infertility, and sciatica
- Improves circulation, respiration and energises the entire body
Challenge yourself with these modifications to Warrior Two pose.
Place hands on hips instead of extending them.
For those with difficulty balancing, shorten the distance between the feet while still keeping the bent knee over the ankle.
To go deeper, take the back foot back and lower the front thigh so that it is parallel to the ground. Keep opening the hips and tracking the knee over the ankle. Keep arms strong, the tailbone tucked, and ribs are drawn in.
Reverse Warrior variation: from Warrior One pose on the left side, take the right arm behind the back and place the hand on the left thigh crease, keep the front knee bent and tracking over the ankle. Reach up over the head with the left arm for a nice side stretch. Hold for five or more long, deep breaths then repeat on the other side.
If you are following the Ashtanga sequence, you will start Virabhadrasana Two on the left side and end up on the right side, facing the front of your mat. From here, windmill the arms and frame the front foot with your hands, then step the front foot back and come to Caturanga (plank position) and lower down. There is an option to go into a handstand transition from Warrior Two to Caturanga. Then do upward dog and downward facing dog, jumping through to sit for Dandasana (staff pose).
Cautions & Contraindications
Do not attempt the Warrior Two pose when you experience the following.
- High blood pressure
- Neck problems: instead of turning the head to look at the front middle finger, look straight ahead by keeping the neck long and straight
- Medical conditions that affect balance