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Yoga Pose 101: Warrior I

Yoga | Yoga Poses

Pronounced as veer-ah-bah-drahs-anna.

Fun Fact: Virabhadra was a fierce warrior incarnation of Shiva, said to have a thousand hands wielding a thousand devastating weapons. Say that a thousand times fast while holding this pose for one thousand breaths to fully embrace this pose of the auspicious warrior!


  • Builds strength in the lower body: legs, feet, ankles, and arches.
  • Stretches the hips, groins, torso, shoulders, and side body
  • Increases stamina for standing poses
  • You will look and feel epic like Mickey Mouse casting spells in Fantasia.


  • Recent or chronic injury to the hips, knees or shoulders.
  • Neck and lower back (lumbar) issues: See below for modifications

Step by Step

  1. From High Lunge, drop back heel so foot turns at a 45-degree angle. Ground down through the outside edge of this back foot while lifting up though inner arch. Engage the thigh of back leg, toning the quadriceps by drawing the knee up towards hip.
  2. Bring the hands up to the bent knee with the breath. Use the arms to draw torso back slightly. Make sure the right knee remains directly above the ankle at a 90-degree angle.
  3. Rotate the hips and shoulders to face the front of your mat (right hip back, left hip forward). Let the shoulder blades slide down the spine and allow the neck to grow long.
  4. Raise the arms over the head with the breath, palms facing each other. Keep the shoulders relaxed, chest lifted, elbows extended heart shining.
  5. To deepen, bring the palms together and while gently arching back. Think less of a back bend, more of a chest opener. Gaze with a soft face towards the ceiling.
  6. Inhale length. Exhale depth.
  7. Reconnect feet to ground, engage both thighs, expand chest, draw shoulder blades down the back, spread toes. Extend from the bottom of the shoulder blades to the tips of the fingers.
  8. Smile.
  9. Exit the way you came in and switch sides.

Modifications: For tired/sore necks, make sure to keep the back of the neck long. For sore lower backs, make sure to keep the abs engaged and the tailbone long. Help square tight hips by having a wider, shorter wheelbase—take your feet closer to the long edges of the mat, and step the feet closer together from front to back.

Prepatory Postures: Low & High Lunge (Ashwa Sanchalanasana), Extended Side Angle (Utthita Parsvakonasana)

Subsequent Postures: Warrior II & III (Virabhadrasana), Prayer Twist (Namaskar Parsvakonasana)

A quote about Virabhadra (from The Greatness of Saturn):

"No sooner did this drop of sweat fall to Earth than it became a fiery being of unlimited valor who, after blazing his way through the earth and through all the underworlds, burnt the seven seas. This being, Virabhadra ('the Auspicious Hero') looked like a flaming fire, having many heads and many eyes, and tens of thousands of arms and legs. The embodiment of concentrated might, Virabhadra stood before his father with folded hands, saying, 'Command me!'"

Featured in New York Magazine, The Guardian, and The Washington Post
Featured in the Huffington Post, USA Today, and VOGUE

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