Discovering Your Inner Warrior
You may have heard of ‘power poses’ that can be used to dissolve nervousness or uncertainty. Well let me introduce you to the ultimate power pose to strengthen and focus your mind and body!
Warrior 2 (Virabhadrasana II) is a powerful standing pose that’s named after the Hindu mythological warrior, Virabhadra, an incarnation of the god Shiva. When aligned correctly, this is a full body pose that builds leg strength, opens the hips, and expands the chest. It also tones the abdomen, ankles and arches of the feet and the wide-open arms at shoulder height help improve breathing capacity and body circulation.
But it’s more than just a physical pose – it also increases your ability to concentrate, dig deep within yourself to maintain your alignment and direct your mind with powerful intention to hold this pose. Distracting thoughts disappear and your energy is poured into the here and now with complete focus. The more you practice this pose, the more you’ll tap into your inner strength and realise you can face any challenge with confidence and determination.
Here are some alignment tips to keep in mind when practicing this pose:
- Build the pose from the ground up by getting your feet and legs placed correctly first.
- Step your feet apart and make sure your stance is wide enough by lifting your arms out to the side at shoulder height and checking that your ankles line up directly under your wrists.
- Turn one foot so that it points to the short edge of your mat. Your other foot can be turned out slightly towards the long edge of the mat or pointing directly at the long edge (parallel to the short edge). The front heel ideally lines up with the arch of your back foot. If you have any twinges in your back knee, you can widen your stance by wiggling your back foot towards the long edge of the mat. Lift through your arches.
- Put your hands on your hips and bend your front knee, ultimately aiming for 90 degrees but go to the level that is possible for you today if your hips are feeling tight. Look down and see if your knee is directly over your ankle and not drifting to the side but pointing straight ahead in line with the center of your foot. By drawing your knee toward the pinky-toe side of your foot you’ll be engaging the external rotators and abductors of your front hip, muscles that are essential for pelvic stability and functionality. If your knee is past your ankle and your shin isn’t vertical, you’ll be putting strain on the knee so wiggle one of your feet to lengthen your stance and bring the knee into alignment over the ankle.
- Pressing into the outer edge of the back foot will strengthen the outside of the leg, creating strong support for the pose through engagement of the back leg. It’ll also give balance to the front thigh and create an even amount of effort through both legs so that you can drop deeper into the pose.
- Pull your belly and tuck your tailbone under slightly to support your lower back. Draw your spine long and keep your torso directly over your tailbone as you raise your arms parallel to the floor at shoulder height, palms down. Look to the front and back arms to ensure they’re at shoulder height. Reach long through your fingertips to each side of the room. Keep the arms active by drawing up with sides of your torso but let the shoulders be soft, rolling your shoulders back to open through the chest, as you draw your shoulder blades down your back. If you have tight shoulders or a shoulder injury, leave your hands resting on your hips but still focus on widening through the chest and drawing your shoulders down.
- Create the intention of opening the hips towards the long edge of the mat, but only do so physically to the point that the hip bones remain balanced, your torso stays aligned over your tailbone and your knee is stable over the ankle and in line with the front foot. If any of these areas move out of alignment, bring them back and just focus on the intention of extending out strongly through your back leg while externally rotating the front thigh. This will actively balance the pelvis and build strength and openness through your hip muscles so that you can work towards squaring the hips towards the long edge of the mat.
- Strong legs, active arms, chest open and gaze focused straight ahead will help you channel your inner warrior (though be careful of turning your head to the front if you have a neck injury). Draw emotional strength from the strength of your body held in this proud stance; a stance that will deepen your commitment to perseverance and build your confidence as you uncover what you’re capable of. Your thighs may start to shake but this is your chance to dig deeper by grounding your feet and firming your legs to hold a little longer, perhaps even discovering a next level of strength to sink lower into the pose. But if your joints are screaming, there’s no failure in moving in and out of this pose by straightening the front leg or lowering the hands to the hips. Listen to your body and use your innate intuition to guide you further in or out of this pose.
- Remember to press down through your back foot as you straighten your front leg to come out of the pose. Turn towards the opposite side of the mat to repeat on the other side of your body.
Everyone has an inner warrior that will help them tap into their personal power and allow them to draw on the strength that will conquer any challenge with confidence! Access your inner warrior with a 7 DAY FREE TRIAL of our comprehensive and supportive online yoga class library today and you’ll discover what you’re really made of!