The series of warrior poses are the foundations of a strong and solid practice of asana. Warrior poses are among the most common poses in yoga practice, and help with balance, stance and hip opening. Warrior poses are great for nearly every type of body and skill level, are easy for beginners to get to grips with, while still being a great pose for building up strength, confidence, and feeling like, well a warrior!
As we do warrior poses more and more often, it’s easy to forget the benefits they can give our minds and bodies. We’ve taken a look at some of the common variants of warrior pose, and the benefits these can give you.
Warrior 1 is a pose that will give you more flexibility in your hips, strengthen and tone your legs when practiced often. The more you practice warrior 1, the more improvement you will see in the rest of your standing poses and hip openers, as it helps you stay grounded and balanced. This pose is great for twisting the spine gently, and opening your chest and shoulders. Not as simple as you might think, there are a lot of alignments to learn in warrior 1, as well as being able to stay with your breath. Once you’ve nailed this pose, you’ll feel strong, focused and confident!
Warrior one can also tone and strengthen your lower back and arms, and increase your stamina in holding standing poses. It’s a great pose to practice if you have a desk job, as it helps to kickstart your metabolism, as well as ease and relax shoulder muscles, and almost instantly releases stress from these areas too.
Warrior 2 not only requires the strength, balance and stability of warrior one, but it also requires a lot of hip and upper body flexibility. This is a good pose to practice the balance of sthira and sukha - also known as steadiness and ease, one of the key principles of yoga asana. This pose also helps you to connect your entire body, especially the parts of your body not in your eyeline. Warrior 2 helps you to learn more about your body’s alignment in the knees and ankles. Try to keep safe by stacking your knee over your ankle, pointing in the same direction of your feet and toes.
Warrior 2 will strengthen and stretch your legs and your ankles, as well as open up and stretch your chest, lungs and shoulders. Internally, it also will stimulate your abdominal organs and improve your digestion. Practicing warrior 2 will also increase your stamina, like warrior 1.
If you experience back pain or aches, or are pregnant, this is a great pose to help alleviate some of this pain, as well as conditions such as flat feet, carpal tunnel syndrome and sciatica.
Mentally, warrior 2 will help promote feelings of peace and courage, and help you feel graceful and strong.
Warrior three helps us to keep focused, and works muscles we don’t often think about in the feet and ankles. These parts of our bodies have over 33 joints and 100 muscles and connective tissues, which are important to keep healthy and strong. Standing one leg at a time in warrior 3 will help you to strengthen and align these parts of our feet. After all, we’re on them all day, so it’s a great pose to allow your feet to breathe, settle, and stretch.
Warrior 3 also helps to keep our knees healthy, by building up thigh muscles. These muscles in our legs help to keep our knees working as they should. Creating a strong foundation is key in practicing yoga, and warrior 3 helps your legs stay strong and toned.
This is a great pose to engage the core. Keeping your hips level and spine neutral will increase your balance, and help you in poses like handstands and standing splits. We often use our hip muscles to carry our core weight, which can lead to lower back pain. Warrior 3 can highlight this pain, but sticking through it and softening your standing leg will stabilise your hips and build a strong core.
You can also align your spine using warrior 3. You can variate your arm placements to alleviate pain or discomfort in the spine, such as expanding them to the side or putting hands in prayer.
Reverse warrior is often used as a transition pose in vinyasa flow, and can often be overlooked. This pose helps open up the side of your body when held for a few breaths. It releases tension in the muscles around the ribs and helps you to breath deeper.
Reverse warrior helps to strengthen the front leg, as it’s bent into a lunge position. If you try not to lean back, you will be taking advantage of this pose and all the ways it can strengthen your legs. By reaching back in a lunge with your upper body, you’ll challenge your core and help build its strength too. This benefit of reverse warrior is often unnoticed as there are lots of other poses where you feel it in your core much more, but keeping yourself up takes a lot of core power. Push yourself further by going deeper into your lunge.
If you want to reap the benefits of all things warrior, take a look at this week’s practice. Focusing on connecting with your inner power and warrior spirit, this week's 4 new classes are connected to you being your best version of yourself, and tuning into that warrior part of yourself that is strong, unwavering, and powerful.
By Amy Cavill
Awaken your inner warrior and experience the benefits fo Warrior Poses, now!
Sankalpa Flow with Kristin Gibowicz
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