Warrior III pose (Virabhadrasana III) is also commonly known as Airplane pose. I hated this pose for the longest time — it was my least favorite balancing pose, because it was really challenging for me. The combination of balancing on one leg while trying to find my centre of gravity, keeping my core engaged and breathing at the same time just seemed like too much to ask. As much as I tried to avoid it, it continued to haunt me, until one day I realized that a pose I once dreaded didn’t seem so bad anymore. Despite our feelings about the practice, the fact is that as long as we just continue to show up, it works. We earn our wings. And slowly but surely, we learn how to take flight.
Benefits Of Warrior III Pose
Warrior III pose is a strong, active pose that strengthens the ankles and legs, tones the muscles of the abdomen, and offers a stretch through the chest, shoulders and hamstrings. This pose also helps to improve balance and coordination, and can assist with posture and general proprioception.
Warrior III Pose Step-By-Step
- Begin standing in Mountain Pose (Tadasana), with your feet separated hip-distance apart and parallel to one another. Spread your toes wide and ground down through all four corners of your feet — the big toe mound, pinky toe mound, and the two outer edges of the heels.
- Inhale to reach your arms up overhead, and as you exhale, begin to extend your right leg straight back behind you as you shift your weight into your left foot and leg.
- Keep the right foot flexed and active (toes pointing down), and find a strong line of energy along the right leg and out through the right heel.
- Lift the inner line of the right thigh higher, and drop the right hip down to ensure it remains level with the left.
- Engage the left quadricep to keep the standing leg strong without locking and/or hyperextending the left knee. Straighten both legs as much as possible.
- Move toward bringing the torso parallel to the floor. Tone the core and keep the low belly in to create more stability in your upper body.
- Keep the gaze down and the neck in a relaxed, neutral position. Remain the pose anywhere from 5 to 10 breaths.
- To come out of the pose, slowly bring the right foot back to meet the left and raise the torso to a vertical position. When ready, repeat on the other side.
- If extending the arms out in front of you feels too challenging or causes discomfort in the low back, take your arms by your sides instead.
- As with any balancing pose, maintaining a steady gaze on a fixed point (your drishti) and keeping the breath smooth and steady will help with balance. Use a wall or a chair if you need to.
- The more that you find the action of lengthening from the fingertips and the crown of the head out through the heel, the more strength and stability you’ll feel in this pose — think about stretching a rope taut versus letting it go slack.
- Traditionally this pose is entered from Warrior I (Virabhadrasana I). Once you feel comfortable with the key actions of this pose, try coming first into Warrior I, then moving into Warrior III with control. Ensure that the hips are level and that the torso doesn’t lunge forward too much as you transition into the pose.