Today we are talking about Warrior II, or Virabhadrasana II. This is a pose that you will find yourself doing a lot in a typical yoga practice, but it can be hard for a teacher to effectively communicate everything that is happening in the pose while teaching a class. We usually just hit the highlights because we don’t have time to have a full on anatomy lesson right then and there.
Which is why we’ve included this handy little photo to show what all is happening in our Warrior 2 stance.
So let’s start from the ground up. As always, make sure your knee is directly over your ankle. You guys might get tired of hearing us say “check your knee”, but we promise, we do it to keep you safe and keep your knees healthy. Your front thigh is as parallel to the ground as you can have it. This can be tricky when you’re new to yoga, and will get easier as you build up flexibility and strength. When you are in this pose, it might seem easy to kind of sink into your hips, and let your back leg just rest there, but in all actuality that back leg is really powered up and working in this pose. You are pressing through that outer edge of your back foot to keep you grounded, while lifting through the inner arch to engage that whole back leg. If you were to imagine that you could pull your feet together without actually moving your legs, that would be the engagement that you’re looking for in this pose.
Moving up to your torso, which is centered. What this means is that you aren’t reaching forward or leaning towards the back leg. Your upper body is completely centered over your legs. Your palms are facing down, and arms are active here as well. You are reaching through each fingertip to activate the muscles of your arms. Be conscious to not scrunch your shoulders up towards your ears.
Now let’s talk gaze. In every yoga posture it can help to find a specific spot to look at. This is called a Drishti in sanskrit and is essentially a point of focus to rest your gaze on during your physical practice, or meditation. When you focus on a fixed point it can help improve your concentration because it keeps your eyes from wandering around the room. In Warrior II your gaze is out over that front hand.
This might seem like a lot of information but when you find that correct alignment, it can help you to have a different experience of the posture. You may feel like something that used to feel so hard or heavy now feels easy and light. Which is why our instructors give cues, corrections, modifications, and adjustments. We want you to get the most out of this practice.
Also, just for fun and to really get in tune with your body, try closing your eyes in a pose and really listen to what you’re feeling. When you close your eyes you close off that visual information we are always receiving and you can finally really feel what works for you.