Being one of the foundation postures in many types of yoga, Warrior III is a shape that we are all very familiar with, and practice regularly. However it is also a posture that we often take for granted and don’t “work on.”
This is unfortunate because building a strong Warrior III is phenomenal for hip strength, spinal flexibility, and concentration.
Here are a few tips on how to correct the three most common misalignments in Warrior III, in order to help you strengthen this posture for your practice.
1. The Hip Drop
It may be super cool to stand with one hip pressing out, but when you are in Warrior III it’s just plain unsafe to hold that swagger.
If you notice that the hip of your lifted leg is higher than the standing hip, then you are in need of “The Hip Drop.” Don’t feel bad, this is a super common misalignment, but it could be hurting your low back and hip as it is twisting your body without support.
Being intensely focused on staying in flight mode can make it challenging to keep your pelvis parallel with the floor.
Fixing it is easy with “The Hip Drop”:
- Flex your lifted foot, kick through the heel, and make sure all the toes are pointed at the floor. This internally rotates your hip. It also helps gain strength in the entire leg, thus making it lighter to hold up behind you.
- Now drop the hip down. Imagine you have a cup of water balanced on your low back. If your back is sloping you would spill that full cup all over your pretty mat.
2. Turtles, Cobras, and Lovers
Warrior III is a backbend. I said it. Shocker, I know, but there it is! Many yogis fall victim to the Stick Pose during a Warrior III hold. They are different postures.
In Stick, you are one line from toe to fingers. In Warrior III, you want your heart to be higher then your hips in a Baby Cobra shape.
Both are fabulous postures of course, but if you want to reap the heart opening benefits of a strong Warrior III, consider adjusting your upper body.
- Pull your core in, navel to spine. This helps support your back in any backbend and it encourages your balance.
- Squeeze your shoulder blades together, let them meet behind your back like lovers! This opens your chest in a Cobra shape and helps you lift it higher then your hips.
- Move your shoulders away from your ears to grow your neck like a turtle, encouraging a long spine, tip to tail.
3. A Longing Gaze
In every yoga posture your gaze (drishti) is vital. In Warrior III it entices focus and helps you balance. It also helps you direct the posture; where your gaze goes your body follows.
Some yogis lift their gaze to the sky and incur an achy neck, some look at the floor and their chest falls forward and down, still others wonder their gaze around the room and they lose their balance. So, how do you mend this?
- Place your gaze on a point straight in front of you. This should stop you dropping your chest down too low, and it will prevent any achy neck from looking at the ceiling.
- Fix your gaze. No wandering eyes; your neighbor is not that interesting. You are practicing for you, not to watch others around the room. Stare longingly at one pinpoint and don’t change it for anything. That dust speck is the most interesting thing on Earth for at least 5 breaths!
- Test your “Longing Gaze” by keeping your eyes fixed and pressing your chin to your chest to open your neck. Your gaze should feel strong and uplifting and your neck should feel open and happy.
We all get misaligned from time to time and need to revisit our foundations for some delicious adjustments and alignment cues. Let’s face it, our practice is different every day, and if we don’t stop to listen to our bodies we are not doing ourselves any justice.
Use these tips to create an even stronger Warrior III and avoid those pesky body aches that occur when we are not fully aligned.