How to do Warrior 1 (Virabhadrasana I)

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Warrior 1 - Jenna Richards

Warrior 1 (Virabhadrasana I) is another great pose (asana) for counteracting the sitting position. This asana opens the hip flexors and strengthens the legs.

Instructions for Warrior 1 (Virabhadrasana I)

Begin in Downward-Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Savasana).

Inhale: Step your foot forward between your hands dropping the back heal of you back foot to the floor. If you need some assistance with this drop your back knee to the floor and use your hand to help you step your foot forwards. Bend your front knee to 90 degrees or less (ensure you don’t bend your knee more than 90 degrees). Draw your knee and quadriceps upwards and straighten your back leg ensuring the back edge of your back foot stays connected with the floor

Exhale: Stay where you are with your hands on the floor on either side of your front foot.

Inhale: Raise your body to an upright position and sweep your arms overhead. Draw your tailbone towards the floor. Spin your little fingers toward each other and bring your hands together in prayer above your head. Keep your shoulder blades down your back. Shoulders are away from your ears and you have a nice long neck. Gaze up at your thumbs but be careful not to crush the vertebrae in the back of your neck as you do so.

Ensure your front shin stays vertical, widen your stance as needed to ensure your knee does not move forward past your ankle. Engage the muscles of your abdomen, lift mulha bandha, and lengthen through the sides of your body. Draw your lower front ribs in and down toward your belly. Lift the crown of your head towards the sky lengthening your upper body.

Hold for a number of breaths.

Exhale: Bring your hands down either side of your front foot and step back to downward dog

Repeat on the other side.

Warrior 1 - Jenna Richards
Warrior 1 pose (Virabhadrasana I)

When to avoid Warrior 1 (Virabhadrasana I)

This asana should be avoided if you have:

  • High blood pressure
  • Heart problems
  • If you have shoulder problems keep your raised arms parallel (or slightly wider than parallel) to each other.
  • If you have neck problems keep your head in a neutral position and don’t look up at your hands.

How to adapt Warrior 1 (Virabhadrasana I)

If you are unable to do this pose practice Crescent Lunge. If you are unable to step to Warrior I from Downward Dog then you can step one foot back from standing. Ensure your feet are about a legs length apart.

Crescent Lunge
The full Crescent Lunge pose

Benefits of Warrior 1 (Virabhadrasana I)

  • Stretches the chest and lungs, shoulders and neck, belly, hip-flexors
  • Strengthens the shoulders and arms, and the muscles of the back
  • Strengthens and stretches the thighs, calves, and ankles

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