Warrior Pose 1, Improve Stamina with Virbhadrasana 1

Author: Randeep Singh / go to all Techniques of Yoga articles

Warrior pose 1 gets it name

from a vengeful Hindu mythological hero,

Virbhadra, who was created by Lord Shiva

from his hair. Virbhadra was created to avenge

the disrespect meeted to his wife Sati,

at the hands of Daksha, Sati couldnt withstand the humiliation,

and had killed herself. Shiva created Virbhadra

from his hair, and his rage, who later beheaded

Daksha and fulfilled the purpose of his birth.

Virbhadrasana 1 is also known as the Warrior pose 1. Sanskrit term vira when translate to English means hero, warrior, courageous.  Bhadra as a term has multiple connotations like blessed, excellent, auspicious, great, skillful etc. Both the terms as taken together  to form Virbhadra stand for a skillful, or great hero or warrior. The name warrior here symbolises the physical and mental states of a yogi in pursuit of right knowledge which can unbridle him / her from the shackels of material existence. 

The kind of virility of disposition and alacrity of mind needed to achieve their individual goals by both a yogi and a warrior is best dispalyed  by Virbhadrasana 1 (warrior pose 1).

Warrior Pose 1 Steps 

  • Stand in Mountain pose ( Tadasana) facing the shorter side of your yoga mat,  a bit backwards from the center of the mat
  • Exhaling, step forward three feet with your right foot,  turn the left foot  45 degrees outwards, Keep the right foot pointed perpendicular to the shorter side of your mat
  • Align the hips with the shorter edge of the mat by pushing the right hip back a bit, as it must have shifted too forward while making the forward lunge with the right foot, and the left hip a bit backwards
  • Keep the shoulders aligned to the shorter edge ( front edge) of the mat and keep them at level with eah other, keep the feet properly grounded for keeping the body in balance
  • Inhaling, swing both the arms forward and then above your head, palms facing each other, keep shoulders extended outward, the shoulder blades are pulled in and up towards the spine
  • Extend the fingers upward by keeping them together, thumbs remain perpendicular ( facing outward) to the fingers
  • Exhaling, bend the right knee till the right knee stations vertically above the right ankle, rght shin perpendicular to the floor,  the knee must not move ahead of the ankle
  • The right thingh must be parallel to the floor and the weight of the body supported by the front heel and the corresponding big toe
  • Press the  left foot ( back foot) into the mat, lift the central arch, and keep it properly engaged as  your anchor to the ground,  align the heel of the right foot to the arch of the left foot
  • Inhaling, Lengthen the spine upwards by pulling the lower abdomen in and up and pushing the tailbone (pelvis) down
  • Open the chest further by looking up at the hands, lift the upper part of the rib cage  keeping the lower part steady
  • Stay in this posture for  minimum of 6 slow, deliberate breaths
  • Exhaling, straighten the knee and return to the started position by lower the arms
  • Repeat the same steps with the left leg forward
  • This will make one round of Warrior pose 1

Warrior Pose 1 – Breathing Pattern

Step forward while exhaling , inhale while swinging the arms forward and up, exhale  for  while bending the knee of the leg which is in front, inhale while lifting the torso out of the pelvis and lengthening the spine, stay in the posture for a minimum of 6 seconds ( increasing it slowly with practice ), and exhaling return to the starting position.

Virbhadrasana 1 – Variations

Variation 1

Instead of swinging the arms above the head, first place the hands on the back of the hips,  once the knne is bent swing the arms behind your back and clasp your fingers. Slightly lift the chest by stretching the arms away from the back, The shoulder blades may come together while making this effort, push them away once the arms are stretched back fully. 

Come out of the  posture by releasing the hands and strightening the front knee while inhaling.

Variation 2

Begin by bending forward into  Uttanasana from Tadasana (Mountain Pose).   Place the finger tips of the espective hands on either side of the ankles,  you can bend your knees a little in case the  hands are not reaching the floor.  Inhaling step back with the left foot into a lunge. Turn the left foot out to 45 degrees, and bend the right knee keeping it directly over the right ankle. The righ thigh must be kept parallel to the floor. Keep both the heels in line with each other, you can separate the feet further in case keeping the balance in this position becomes a challenge.

Bring the hands on the sides of the waist, squar the hips to the front of the mat, push the left foot into the mat for properly grounding the pose, lift the torso out of the pelvis, swing the arms above the head,  join the hands and look up at them. To come out of this variation of the Warrior pose 1  separate the hands to shoulder width, lower the gaze forward, place the hands beside the respective ankle by bending forward (exhaling) and place the left foot back near the right foot as in Uttanasna. Change the legs for completing one round.

Warrior pose 1

Warrior Pose 1 –  Alignment essentials and Modifications

Knowing  and putting to practice the general principles of alignment in yoga and  how to execute the right action with the right attitude while doing a yoga asana can aid one in maximizing the benefits of any yoga posture, the alignment essentials listed  here explain, more specifically,  how to take care of the common errors and precautions, and some modifications, while doing Warrior Pose 1. 

  • In case one feels unstable by  aligning the feet in a straight line, as the center fo gravity is displaced from the normal pelvic center,  one can increase side to side width between the feet for the required stability
  • The back leg   must be kept straight without hyperextending the knee,  the  feel of a stretch behind the knee joint is an indicator of a hyperextended knee
  • Hyperextension fo the back knee can be prevented by engaging the thigh muscles of the back leg , hamstings and not the quadriceps, to keep the knee cap lifted without locking the knee
  • Keep the bent knee of the front leg directly over the corresponding ankle, if the knee goes inward, to the left,  loosing its perpendicular alignment, a potentially harmful stretch of the inner knee which can stretch the inelastic ligaments of the knee joint
  • In order to prevent the  inward collapse of the front knee, keep the front leg externally rotated by engaging the  outer muscles of the same hip
  • Keep the hands  activated, and let the attention flow continously from the arms to the fingertips
  • Keep the core engaged and the tail bone extended towards the floor in order the lengthen out the lower back, this will prevent the pelvis from tipping forward which can compress the lower back into pain
  • Keeping the feet hip distance apart, throughout, will help in keeping the hips squared to the shorter side of the mat and will put less pressure on the sacroiliac joint ( joint between the sacrum and the ilium bones of the pelvis)
  • Keep the heel of the back foot properly grounded into the mat
  • In case of the presence of any neck injuries keep the chin down and the neck aligned to the spine
  • The pose can be  modified by keeping the hands clasped in prayer position at the sternum,  one can also clasp the hands behind the back the arms stretched  backward, further one can bend forward inside the front  bent leg with the arms lifted and stretched upward,  here the gaze can be kept forward or down  as is comfortable
  • One can even place a block under the heel of the back foot, to press down upon, or can press the heel against a wall for extra stability
  • In case one suffers from lower back pain keep the torso slightly bent forward and extended upwards
  • In case one finds it difficult to keep the torso vertically straight one can practice lengthening the poas muscle and opening the hip flexors by practicing Ashwa Sanchalanasana with a side bend or Indudalasana (standing side bend)
  • If the poas muscle is still tight one can left the back heel and bend the back knee
  • Keep the core strong and engaged by pulling the  front of the pelvis towards the navel and moving the lower rib cage slightly back and downwards
  • Placing the back of the thigh ( hamstring muscles) of the front bent leg  over the seat of  a yoga chair can help one balance  better while doing Warrior pose 1
  • One o fthe modifications one can use to engage and strengthen one’s core is by placing a yoga block between the front bent knee and the wall, pressing against the block will help properly engage the core muscles which will aid by keeping the torso vertically straight 
  • Keep the all the four points of the back foot equally pressed into the mat, incase the outer back foot is lifting up and flattening the inner arch it can subject the knee joint to un dew pressure and can also weaken the  leg, to counter this consciously lift he inner arch and press the outer foot into the mat, this may disturb the squaring of the hips to the shorter side of the mat, but try to find a  balance between the two

Contraindications and Precautions – Virbhadrasana 1

  • Practice Warrior Pose 1 on an empty stomach,  keep a gap of around 4 to 5 hours between having a large meal and practicing the asana
  • Practice Warrior Pose 1 only after consulting your physician in case of any recent spinal injury or  recovery from serious illness
  • In case suffering from hypertension ( high blood pressure) avoid raising the arms over the head, instead keep then in the prayer pose or on the waist
  • Pregnant women especially in their second and third trimesters should only practice Warrior pose 1  in case they had been practicing yoga regularly in the past as well, they must practice this pose near a wall for additional support in case required, increasing the width between the feet, bending the knee of the back foot and raising the back heel can also ease the strain of the pose for pregnant women
  • Avoid this posture in case suffering from diarrhoea
  • Individuals with painful knee joints must practice it with some support o the knees

Focal Movements – Warrior Pose 1

The focal movements would be of hip adduction and shoulder flexion.  One must feel the strength of the inner thighs ( adductor muscles) and the deltoid muscles of the shoulders.  One can even feel the stretch of the muscles of the calf (gastrocnemius muscle) in the back leg. This pose is also known as the closed-hip-pose as it tones the inner thighs by closing the inner line of the hips.

Body Reading – Warrior Pose 1

Inability to properly ground the back foot indicates inflexibility of the outer ankle and weakness of the arch. In case one cannot keep the pelvis at right angle with the front thigh shows weakness in the adductor muscles of the legs. Any tightness of the hip flexors in the upper thigh  and groin region will pull the lumber curve further inwards  intensifying lordosis in the region which can cause lower back pain.

 Inward tilting of the ankle of the back foot indicates weakness in the tibialis anterior muscle.

Warrior Pose 1 Benefits

Warrior pose 1 ( Virbhadrasana 1) can benefit the practitioner from a number of angles:

  • It stimulate the functions of the lungs and the heart,  It is a good include in the yoga techniques for managing heart issues
  • It  benefit by  relieving Sciatica pain as well as the lower back pain since it tones the hip extensors ( hamstrings and gluteus maximus) of the back leg
  • It helps improve balance – vertigo-  and benefits  by improving the general posture of the practitioner, that is the reason it always finds place in the  group of yoga techniques for healing vertigo
  • It benefits the muscles of the feet, ankles, calves and the thighs and shoulders (deltoids)
  • It  renders enhanced mobility to hip and shoulder joints (frozen shoulders) along with opening up the chest which enhances the lung capacity
  • It benefits by toning up the muscles of the arms  (triceps and biceps) and the legs
  • Ir helps improve the physical stamina of the body,  the group of yoga techniques for improving one’s physical stamina is incomplete without Warrior Pose 1
  • It helps imrpove the metabolism and adds to the health of the spine
  • Warrior Pose 1 is very effective in releasing the stress from the shoulders as well as the mind
  • It helps tone the abdomen and the adductor muscles of the legs
  • It helps strengthen the mucles which keeps the knee joint in position, thus it is always recommended as a part of yoga techniques which are good for knees
  •  It  helps mitigate the bad effects of a sedentary lifestyle