Derive the true strength from this foundational pose in September
What is Warrior II?
Warrior II is a foundational standing pose (or asana) also known as Virabhadra. So named after a divine warrior who was an extremely fierce incarnation of the Hindu god Shiva. Described as having a thousand heads, a thousand eyes, and a thousand feet, wielding a thousand clubs, and wearing a tiger’s skin, other gods fled him, not having sufficient strength to over-power him in battle.
It is no surprise then to learn that Warrior II is a very powerful full-body yoga pose that cultivates strength and mobility throughout the body and particularly in the legs and hips. However, its full power is only unleashed when executed properly and there are a number of common pitfalls and anyone of which can prevent us benefitting to the full extent. Yoga Internationalhave put together a list of five key mistakes (see below), which, if we can avoid, will help us maximise the full strengthening potential of Warrior II.
What are the common mistakes to avoid?
- Lengthen your stance – You may find that you naturally adopt too short a stance in Warrior II pose. Your front thigh should be parallel to the floor. If it’s not, to benefit from the asana’s inherent intensity, you may need to lengthen your stance. Remember: It’s called “warrior” for a reason!”.
- Engage both legs equally – If you find that your front thigh is doing all the work (you’ll feel the burn!) root from your pelvis down into the back of your heel and press strongly through your back heel to help distribute the work more evenly across the front and back leg, allowing you to deepen the pose.
- Don’t become a ‘running warrior’ – Virabhadra never ran from a fight and neither should you! Try not to reach too far forward with the upper body (giving the appearance of running forward), by keeping your back wrist over your back ankle as you sink into the pose, helping to keep your torso centered and your pelvis level.
- Try not to drop your front knee inwards – This can happen as we compensate for weak hips. To cultivate pelvic stability and strengthen hips ensure that your front knee is directly over your front ankle and the line of your thigh tracks straight toward the front of your mat in line with the center of your foot and engage your front hip by pressing your knee toward the outside (little toe side) of your foot.
- Don’t try to square your hips to the mat completely – This is simply anatomically impossible for most of us, so instead set your goal to maximise the range of motion possible for your particular hips, as far as you can, still keeping your front knee over your front ankle (not letting it roll in) and pressing through the back heel to engage both legs equally. The combination creates balance in the pelvis and opens the deep hip muscles.
Putting it into practice
At Ikigai Holistic we have several classes a week that offer this style of yoga known as Hatha. Hatha yoga focuses on basic postures, such as the warrior poses and rhythmic breathing, with inhaling and exhaling as drivers of motion, as well as a way to find stillness. Hatha is great for beginners and for anyone looking for a good stretch or work on their alignment. We recommend trying Beginners Yoga if you are just starting out, or Dynamic Hatha if you are at a more intermediate level. Whatever your warrior level you will always be welcome! To book, click here https://ikigaiholistic.co.uk/class-bookings/