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Authentically Aligned: Warrior I

Yoga | Yoga for Beginners

In my opinion, Warrior I is the most challenging of the Warrior series for most beginners. The alignment can be confusing, and for many of us, the hips don’t like to square easily.

Here are a few tips to keep the alignment authentic to your body in this pose.

1. Stance

The feet should be about three to four feet away from each other. Traditionally, this pose is done with heel-to-heel alignment. For many of us, however, this is not accessible if we want to keep the frontal hipbones facing forward.

So you might want to position the feet as if they were on two separate sides of a sidewalk, or even two train tracks, with the back foot turned inward about 45 degrees. However, if the hips and low back are tight, best turn the back heel out more.

If your feet look like they are both facing the same direction, this is totally okay.

2. Legs

Golden rule for legs is that the knees should always face the same way as the toes. So notice your back knee and make sure that the kneecap and back toes are like a laser beam trained on the same spot.

Engage the back leg from the bottom of the bum to the outside of the heel, and the groin to the ball of the foot. The front knee should be hovering over the front ankle when the leg is bent, eventually aiming to get the front thigh parallel to the ground, with the shinbone perpendicular to the earth.

3. Hips

Try to square them. This might not happen. Think about wiggling the front bum back and pushing the back bum forward. This still might not make your hips square. You should love your hips anyways. I think there is an expression, “It’s hip to be square.” There’s also one that says, “Don’t be a square, man.”

What am I trying to say? Do your best. Your hips will eventually fall in line. Be okay with where you are right now. Tuck the tailbone right toward the ground and pull the front of the pelvis up like Michael Jackson (may he rest in peace).

4. Torso

You’re a warrior, so stand tall and proud. The torso should be elongating. The back should be lengthening. The chest should be confidently lifted. Shoulders draw down the back. Feel the bottom points of the shoulder blades moving down, down, down.

5. Arms

Stretch them up over the head, shoulders down. If you have loads of shoulder mobility, the palms can touch. You can even take a little backbend here lifting the sternum up and looking toward the thumbs.

If the shoulders are tighter, the hands can be apart. If the shoulders are very tight, the arms will make a V shape. If mobility is compromised in the shoulders, I would also suggest rotating the hands so the palms face behind you to encourage the shoulders to open more. In time they will.

6. Tidbits

Glue the outside edge of the back foot to the ground. Lift the inner back ankle. Look forward and let the eyes soften. Let the face and jaw soften. Breathe steadily.

Warrior I might not be comfortable for your first 20 practices, but stick with it. This pose is a great one for cultivating perseverance and confidence.

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