Are you a warrior yogi? I love warrior poses. One of the reasons is the variety: there are three basic variations of warrior (aptly named “one,” “two,” and “three”), as well as a few others with more poetic names. Each warrior pose has unique benefits, and together, they fit beautifully into a vinyasa flow sequence. Often when I practice at home on my own and I’m not sure which poses to do, I go through a sequence of warrior poses! The poses make me feel powerful, peaceful, grounded, balanced, and free—all at the same time!
Benefits of Warrior Poses
In Light on Yoga, master yogi B.K.S. Iyengar explains that warrior poses—called virabhadrasana in Sanskrit—are named for Virabhadra, a powerful warrior the Hindu god Siva created from a lock of his own hair.
Among the many benefits of warrior poses are:
- They boost your mood.
- They help you feel confident.
- They connect you with your own power.
- They make you stronger.
- They are energizing.
- They are great for balance.
- They make it easy to connect with the breath.
Here’s a look at each variation of virabhadrasana.
Warrior One/Virabhadrasana One
In warrior one, you are in a lunge with hips facing forwards and your arms raised above your head (though you may prefer a different arm variation). Your back foot is planted at a 45-degree angle. The chest is expanded in the warrior variation, making it easier to breathe deeply. The pose is also good for the shoulders and back.
Warrior Two/Virabhadrasana Two
This is my favorite warrior pose. In warrior two, your lunge is wider and your back foot is parallel to the back edge of your mat. Your hands are outstretched in both directions, and you gaze fiercely over your front fingers. The pose is a good one for strengthening the leg muscles. Once mastered, says Iyengar, warrior two helps students do challenging forward-bending poses with greater ease. Warrior two is also the basis for the next variation—windswept warrior.
Windswept (Reverse) Warrior/Viparita Virabhadrasana
When your fierceness reaches its peak in warrior two, you can take it step further by raising the front arm over your head in windswept warrior. When I’m in this pose, I often feel powerful and vulnerable at the same time.
Humble (Bound) Warrior/Baddha Virabhadrasana
As any good yogi knows, bowing to a higher power is a hallmark of the practice. That’s why I love humble warrior. This is variation is usually taken from warrior one. In humble warrior, you bow over your bent knee and raise your arms above your head. Don’t be fooled by the word “humble,” though. This pose takes a good amount of strength. You’ll be humbled by the burn in your front thigh if you hold the pose long enough!
Warrior Three/Virabhadrasana Three
Warrior three is about courage and balance. Iyengar also notes that it creates poise and harmony. In this variation, you launch forward and stand one one leg with the other lifted behind you until it’s parallel to the ground. Your arms can be outstretched in front of you or clasped behind your back. Warrior three is great for your core, which you’ll need to activate in order to stay balanced.
Which warrior pose is your favorite? Or, like me, do you love them all? Either way, by making these poses a regular part of your practice, you’ll stay strong, grounded, and powerful.