As a beginner, among the many confusions of learning yoga, is figuring out your stance for standing poses (meaning Warrior II, Side Angle, Triangle, etc.). How long from the front foot to the back foot? How much width between the heels? What are the angles the feet are turned? Is there an absolute right way? And it’s also highly probable you haven’t given this a second thought and just step your feet apart and do your best to make the shape. Here’s a step by step guide to keep it simple and increase the power of your postures.
- Place a strap down the length of the mat so it forms a straight line from one end to the other. Stand with heels on the strap facing the long edge of the mat and step the feet wide apart. Wide is subjective, so just step to what feels wide to you.
- Turn the feet parallel keeping the heels on the strap.
- Turn the right toes out to the right so the right toes face the short edge of the mat. Your entire right foot will now be on the strap.
- Keeping the heel on the strap, turn the left toes a little bit in, say 10-15 degrees.
- Bend the right knee following the line of the strap, so it’s over the ankle and the centre of the knee faces towards the second and third toes on the right foot.
- Ask yourself, do I feel any stretch or demand in this posture?
- If no, then start over and try wider.
- If yes, and it’s hard but sustainable (meaning you can be here a minute or so), stay put!
- If yes, but too much for today, start over and do less.
- If yes, but not quite enough for today, start over and deepen a bit.
- Open the arms and you are in your customised warrior II stance! Repeat on other side.
- Use this technique for triangle and side angle as well.
The small print
Heel to heel is a default position for beginners as it provides a reasonable amount of opening across both hips in most standing poses while still relatively stable and accessible.
As you deepen your practice you will both lengthen your stance so it remains sustainably challenging and bring the heels into front heel to back arch alignment, which increases the range of motion demand on the hips. Your stance will change as you become more proficient! Additionally, you can vary your stance from practice to practice dependent on the demand you would like to have.
If your balance is less stable and mobility in your hips is limited or restrained by pain or injury, you may experiment with a small gap between the heels (so if you are using the strap down the centre of the mat you will stand on either side of it in warrior II).
The back foot turns in 15-20 degrees to lessen demand on the sacroiliac joint which is commonly irritated in long term deep practice.
Click here to watch the Find Your Stance video
More tips for beginners here.
More general practice tips here.
By Adam Hocke
Adam has been practicing vinyasa flow yoga since 1999 and has trained extensively with Jason Crandell. He offers precise, strong, and accessible classes to physically awaken the body and develop mindfulness both on and off the mat. His teaching is down-to-earth and direct, exploring traditional practices from a modern perspective. A native of South Florida, Adam spent ten years in New York City before becoming a Londoner. He teaches studio classes, workshops and courses throughout London, and retreats across the globe. As a writer, Adam contributes regularly to magazines and web publications on yoga. Visit Adam at adamhocke.com