(Virabhadrasana II): Techniques, Benefits, Variations

Level – Beginner

Warrior 2 Pose

(Virabhadrasana II)

Warrior 2 Pose Prep & Practice

1

Beginning in Mountain pose (Tadasana) at top of mat. On an exhalation, take a big step back with the left foot, hands come to hips.

2

Right toes (front foot) pointed toward top of mat, left foot (back foot) parallel to the back edge of mat. Align heel of front foot with arch of back foot

3

Bend right (front) knee, stacking knee over ankle, thigh parallel to floor, rotated externally. Lengthen left (back) thigh, engaging muscles, grounding through outside edge of left (back) foot.

4

Hips are square to side edge of mat, low abs firm in and up, knitting front ribs finding length in the front, sides and back of torso.

5

Shoulders stacked over hips, inhale arms up over head, exhale arms parallel to floor, inline with shoulders, palms face down. Gentle Gaze over right (front) middle finger.

6

Breath is steady, legs, abdominals and arms energized and engaged, soften tops of shoulders away from ears.

7

To come out of the pose, heal toe left (back) foot in to shorten stance, use the abdominal muscles to mindfully step back to Mountain (Tadasana) at top of mat, prepare for second side.

Variations/Modifications

  • Front knee behind ankle instead of stacked
  • Practice with back to a wall (balance issues)
  • Hands on hips (shoulder injury)
  • Neutral head, gaze straight ahead instead of over front hand (neck injury)
  • Palms up

Physical, Mental and Emotional Benefits

  • Strengthens and stretches legs and hips
  • Improves balance and concentration
  • Opens shoulders and chest
  • Energizes the body and strengthens the will
  • Relieves lower back pain and sciatica
  • Grounding

Contraindications

  • Hip, ankle or knee injuries (Flexion or Rotation)
  • Difficulty Standing
  • Balance Issues (see modifications)
  • Shoulder Injury (see modifications)
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Neck Injury (see modifications)

Thoughtful Sequencing

Mountain (Tadasana), Warrior II (Virabhadrasana II), Extended Side Angle (Parsvakonasana), Reverse Triangle (Parivritta Trikonasana), Option to Flow through Sun Salutation (Surya Namaskar), meeting in Mountain (Tadasana). Repeat other side.

A Few Notes

Warrior 2 is a powerful standing pose that you can easily work into your daily yoga practice. You’ll also often see Warrior II in yoga classes as a part of a vinyasa yoga flow or in certain variations of Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutations). It’s a great preparation pose to get into triangle pose, or an anchor for dancing warrior, which moves through warrior 1 and reverse warrior.

As great as Warrior II is, though, it can be quite challenging for some people to get into. Tight hips, hamstrings, or calves can make it difficult to get into Warrior II Pose (Virabhadrasana 2).

To help make Warrior II Pose more accessible to you, you can always widen your stance so that each foot touches the respective side of your mat. Keep your upper body facing the side of your mat that you’re opening to and your front shin perpendicular to the floor. In its full expression, Warrior II Pose requires your front thigh to be parallel to the floor at a 90-degree angle from your shin. If that is too difficult for you, though, then you can slightly open the bend of your front knee so that your front thigh is at a 45-degree angle from the ground. If it’s comfortable for you, you can raise your arms so that they are parallel to the floor. Otherwise, feel free to place your hands on your hips. If you cannot maintain flat feet in the recommended 45-degree angle, then you can bring your back foot parallel to the back edge of the mat.

No matter which variation you are in, regularly check in on your posture. Open your chest and shoulders by pulling your shoulder blades toward each other and down toward the ground.

In traditional Tantra yoga, each asana is treated like a meditation. When you practice yoga according to this tradition, hold each pose for as long as possible while focusing on the energetic connection to both the Earth below you and the Cosmic Consciousness above.

If you’re looking for other yoga poses to complete this flow, then add a few other standing poses.

Want more yoga pose tutorials? See more in my Yoga Pose Directory.

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