Virabhadrasana I (Warrior Pose I)
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Before You Start
This posture is included in many opening sequences (i.e Surya Namaskar B / Sun Salutation B). Include it in your practice if you are going to practice any other deep lunging postures, as it encourages a gradual opening of your hips. Before entering this pose, be sure to practice deep, audible breathing in and out of the nose in Tadasasna (standing tall, feet together, shoulders rolled back and relaxed, arms relaxed by the side).
Moving in and out of the Asana
1. Begin in Tadasana.
2. Exhale and step or hop your feet 4 - 5 feet apart. Keep them parallel to each another.
3. Inhale and reach your arms up, stretching from the sides of the waist to your fingertips. Keep shoulders relaxed and down. Bring your palms together in prayer position if your shoulders and neck allow.
4. Turn your hips and upper body to the right.
5. Turn your right foot straight ahead and the left foot slightly forward. Keep both heels in line and firmly rooted to the ground.
6. Exhale and bend your right knee until the thigh is parallel to the ground. Take a wider stance if your knee is in front of your heel. Try to keep your knee and right hip in a straight line.
7. Move your right hip back and your left hip forward to square your hips.
8. Look to your hands.
9. Hold for 5-10 breaths.
10. Pivot on the heels all the way to the left and repeat on the other side.
11. Exhale and step your feet together and return to Tadasana.
Tips for Beginner Students
Build the strength of your legs. Take a wide enough stance that your knee is in line with your heel as you sit deeper, but not so wide that you collapse.
Give equal weight to the front and back feet. Press the outer edge of the back foot firmly into the ground.
If your shoulders or neck feel tight, separate your hands slightly, reaching up more with the little fingers than the thumbs. If you still feel a strain, bring your hands to your hips.
Keep your upper body tall, and relatively straight, rather than deep back bending.
Tips for Intermediate Students
Hold the pose for a longer, 10 - 20 breaths.
Work strongly on squaring the hips, so they are parallel with your shoulders.
Tuck your tailbone so it points towards the ground.
Tighten your abdominal muscles and lift your ribs away from your hips.
Tips for Advanced Students
Lift your pelvic floor as you sit deeper into the pose.
Feel the posture draw strength and unfold from the inside out, rather than working from the outside in.
Lengthen the back of your neck as you look up, rather than dropping the head back.
Look towards the tip of your nose to stay present.
Releasing tight hips, groin, shoulders and neck.
Toning and strengthening arms, back, abdomen and thighs.
Expanding the chest and intercostal muscles in between each rib, improving deep breathing capacity.
Building strength in weak ankles and knees.
Do not practice if you have...
High blood pressure/heart condition.
Neck problems (though you can try to keep your head neutral rather than looking up).
Shoulder problems: Keep your hands on your hips or raise them half way.
Strained groin/hips: Lessen the depth of your lunge or avoid this posture if your injury is serious.