Warrior Pose - The Ultimate Guide

The Warrior Poses are among some of the most widely practiced standing postures. Standing poses may lack the glamour of inversions or balancing postures, but they can provide a full range of benefits that shouldn’t be neglected. We cover the benefits of standing poses more in our article on Mountain Pose (which you should definitely check out!). 

Once you’ve mastered Mountain Pose, a Warrior Pose can be a great next step in expanding on your practice. Incorporating one (or more) of them into your everyday routine can bring a wide spectrum of benefits for both the mind and body. 

Chances are you've tried some or all of these in at least one class before. Even if you are well-versed in Warrior, there is always room for improvement. But in order to get the most benefit from any pose, that pose must be done correctly. That’s exactly what we’re here to help with. 

The different kinds of Warrior Pose are relatively easy to do, and any beginner should feel comfortable incorporating one or all of them into their everyday practice. You can even adjust the length of time you hold each of the poses based on the type of intensity you are seeking in your practice. 

Related: Morning Stretches To Try Today

two women practice warrior I

How To Do Warrior I

Let's start from the beginning. This standing pose is one of the most commonly practiced by all skill levels. You can also utilize many variations that exist as a way to fine-tune the pose to address limitations or injuries you might be dealing with during a class.

  • From a standing position, bring your right foot ahead of you. 
  • Hold your foot in a parallel placement with the toes pointing towards the head of your mat.
  • Bend the knee of the right leg into a lunge position. 
  • Hold the left leg in a straight line behind you and twist your heel in at a 45-degree angle. 
  • Bring your arms over your head, keeping them in a straight line and pushing the shoulders to the floor while squeezing them together and down. 
  • Hold the chin upward to look at your hands above your head. 
  • Now hold for three to five breaths and repeat on the opposite side. 

Variations On Warrior I

These are some of the ways to adjust Warrior I to meet your particular needs.

Advanced Versions

If your skill level is a bit more advanced and you're starting to find that Warrior I is getting a little too easy, you can adjust your posture to increase the challenge. That means deepening the pose by turning your front leg out while turning your back leg in and keeping it straight. Consider holding your palms together and arch the back while turning your gaze up to the sky. 

Physical Limitations

Warrior I can be tough on certain parts of the body, especially the knees and the back. In the case of the former, your back knee might be feeling discomfort in the pose, so you can alleviate this by either bending your back leg along with your front or rising up on the ball of your back foot. 

As to the latter, stabilize your core and adjust the height of your arms so you feel more comfortable in the pose. This will relieve some of the pressure on the back. 

The Benefits Of Warrior I

There are many reasons why you should be incorporating Warrior I into your routine. As standing poses go, it offers some of the most compelling advantages that range from building strength in the limbs and the back to opening up the hips, lungs, and chest. You'll find your balance and focus are greatly augmented and your circulation and respiration improved.  Above all, the whole body can get that badly needed energy boost first thing in the morning. 

woman practicing warrior II

How To Do Warrior II

The next in the series of Warrior poses places a little more emphasis on building strength in the legs

  • Start in a standing position, feet parallel about two to three feet away from each other. 
  • Extend the arms straight out from either side of the body.
  • Let the shoulders relax away from the ears. 
  • Twist your left foot out at a 90 degree angle and bend the knee at a lunge position. Set the knee right above the ankle and pointing out above the toes. 
  • Face your head to the left and gaze above the fingers. 
  • Repeat the same thing on the opposite side. 

The Benefits Of Warrior II

Much like with Warrior I, you can enjoy the benefits of stronger legs, and your hips, shoulders, and groin are all going to get a good stretch in the bargain. This pose will help to enhance your sense of balance and your circulatory and respiratory systems are going to feel much improved in no time. Warrior II can also give your abdominal organs the stimulation they need.  Not to mention the same energy boost you can enjoy from Warrior I. 

woman practicing warrior III

How To Do Warrior III

Here is where things start to get a little tougher. Warrior III is definitely the most challenging of the group as it concentrates further on the core. 

  • Start the pose with your front knee bent in lunge. 
  • Keep your back leg held straight with the heel lifted up from the mat. 
  • Keep the hips and chest squared toward the front of your mat. 
  • Lift your arms over your head. 
  • Bring both hands together, palms touching, held in front of your heart as if you were praying. 
  • Lean forward as the back leg is elongated in a straight line. Keep it even with your hips while your foot is flexed, 
  • Face down to the mat. 
  • Maintain your standing leg at a straight position, without locking the knee rigid. 
  • Now reach both of your arms ahead of you so your body looks like a T.

The Benefits Of Warrior III

Since you are positioning your body on just one leg, you can expect to increase your balance and coordination with Warrior III. The muscles in your abdomen, arms, and legs will all get a good workout with this pose and you can improve your posture as well. 

Additional Warrior Poses

If you're planning to string a whole sequence of Warrior Poses together, you can include these two additional poses as well. You will find the progression between them natural to perform. They rely only on slight variations of the positioning of the body as you move from one to the next. 

Humble Warrior

This is a pose you can enter into from Warrior I. 

  • Let your arms fall loose and take them around behind the back and interlace the fingers together. 
  • Bring both hands down the back.
  • Push out the chest and bend the upper body and tuck it into the right knee.
  • Bring the arms up to the ceiling and point the top of the head towards the mat.
  • Hold the right knee in a deep bend with the hips square with the front of the mat. 
  • Make sure not to let your shoulder rest on the front knee. 

Reverse Warrior

This is a pose you can enter into from Warrior II. 

  • Start the pose in Warrior II, planting the right foot forward. 
  • Angle the torso to the front of the mat. 
  • Loop your right hand up to the sky and stretch the right side of the body. 
  • Maintain the right arm placed snugly into the socket of the shoulder. 
  • Bring the left hand down on the backside of the left thigh. 
  • Turn your head up towards your right fingertips
  • Hold the pose for three to five breaths. 

woman practicing warrior pose at sunset on cliff

Final Thoughts

Warrior Pose offers a variety of positions, adjustments, and variations to make it one of the most diverse and interesting poses in all of yoga. The capability to open the chest, improve your balance, and strengthen the muscles can do wonders to prepare you for more complex and challenging poses to come. Practice one or more of these poses as part of your everyday routine and you'll find it much easier to maintain your alignment and increase flexibility

Want to learn more about yoga and yoga poses? Be sure to visit the Yoga Society Blog.

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