According to legend, Warrior III represents the point of taking action in battle, striking with utmost precision and devoid of all hesitation or fear.
Now, if you are like me, you do not practice yoga with the intent of striking your opponent; rather, you do so with the aim of cutting through internal conflict, achieving absolute focus, and living from intention!
This challenging pose helps me clear away mental and emotional debris and seek my center. No matter how wobbly I feel during this sacred pose, I dig deep into that warrior spirit, persevere, and emerge stronger, more serene, and ready for anything life has to throw at me.
If you seek a peaceful heart and calm mind, as well as some amazing physical benefits, here are five reasons to invite Warrior III onto your yoga mat every day!
1. It brings your attention to your soles.
Did you know that the foot and ankle complex have more than 33 joints and over 100 muscles and connective tissues? Warrior III requires you to stand on one leg at a time, helping strengthen and align these muscles and bones.
Regardless of how style-savvy you may be, your busy feet can get pretty miserable having to be stuck inside your shoes all day. Your toes appreciate the opportunity that Warrior III provides them to just breathe and settle into the earth without the barrier of footwear.
If you notice that your toes turn in and curl up into a death grip as your ankle tremors and shakes, remember to spread those toes and place even weight into the “triangle” of the big toe, pinky toe, and heel—pretty soon, you will hold this pose with the peaceful ease of the warrior.
2. It builds a support system for your knees.
Warrior III makes you sweat because it tones the powerhouse muscles in your thighs. Your glutes, hamstrings, and quadriceps are primarily responsible for keeping the knees in check.
In those moments when you feel your legs truly working, rest assured that you are creating a sturdy foundation that will not buckle under the stress that life places on you (or your knees). You got this, Warrior!
3. It improves your endurance and core strength and relieves pressure on the hips.
Warrior III teaches you how to stabilize those hips and give the overworked piriformis a much needed break.
The outer hip muscles often try to carry the load intended for the core, and unfortunately, this habit can lead to lower back pain. Warrior III points this out very quickly in the form of fatigue that can travel anywhere down the lateral side of the standing leg, including your feet.
A solution for this, as you will learn over time, is ENDURANCE—stick with it and do not give up! Soften the standing leg by microbending the knee and diligently squaring off the hips to reveal the power of your core.
If you get tired and need a break, a great variation is resting your fingers on blocks or even against a wall until you develop the core strength you need to make it through 5 to 10 breaths before switching sides.
4. It helps align your spine and sharpens your focus.
Now that we’ve journeyed through the lower part of the body in Warrior III, let’s take a look at the role of the upper body and all of the beautiful lines that this pose draws in your spine and arms.
If you look at the pose as a whole, the aerodynamic shape looks like that of an arrow soaring through the air with no chance of missing its mark. When I inquired what my students love most about this pose, unanimously they told me, “I feel like I am FLYING!”
Trust that once you lay the foundation in your feet, knees, and hips, you have freedom to expand, explore, and enliven your Warrior any way your heart desires.
Play with the following arm variations: hands in prayer to alleviate discomfort in the cervical spine and/or shoulders, expand arms out to the side for an airplane version of the pose, or extend arms straight ahead for your longest reaching Warrior III!
5. It allows you to ignite your fire and live intentionally.
The bottom line in yoga and in life is, you gotta want this. Warrior III will push you to your edge and you will find every excuse arise to break your will and your focus.
Physiologically, engaging the core means firing up your deepest abdominals, engaging mula and uddiyana bandha, and strengthening the chest and latissimus dorsi muscles groups, but energetically core is synonymous with PASSION!
Warrior III will help you find your passion, bring it into your life, and express it. Find your truth!
As you practice Warrior III on your mat, know that with time and dedication, you can transform the biggest struggles into strengths. You have time to get here, so please don’t hurry towards the goal of “mastering” this or any pose—that’s your ego projecting ambition with no destination in mind.
Once you understand the intricacies of this pose and specifically how your body responds to it from day to day, hopefully, you come to love it as much as I do.
While I can confidently say Warrior III will not ever feel easy, your resistance will wear down and you will discover that amidst challenges, your inner warrior will rise to the occasion and get you through anything!