Yoga Pose 101: Warrior II

Daniel Scott
Yoga Pose 101: Warrior II

Pronounced as veer-ah-bah-drahs-anna

Fun Fact: Zen Archers practice holding a bow for two years before even firing their first arrow. Keep this in mind when you feel that front thigh begin to burn after a few breaths.

Drishti: Hastagrai (Hands)

Benefits

  • Strengthen those thighs, calves, and feet
  • Open those tight hips and grumpy shoulders
  • Sharpen awareness in your feet (spread those front toes, draw up that back arch)
  • Lengthen and support the back body through core connection
  • Hone one-pointed focus
  • Deepen connection to breath
  • It’s energizing!

Contraindications/Cautions

  • Recent or chronic injury to the hips, knees or shoulders.
  • High blood pressure (be mindful of keeping the arms raised in line with the heart for extended periods of time)
  • If your neck hurts, keep your face turned in the same direction as your chest. Respect the neck!

Step-by-Step

From Tadasana (Mountain Pose aka Standing at the front of your mat, raring to go):

  1. Step your left foot to the back of the mat, lining your heels about 4 inches apart (depending on hip openness).
  2. Turn your right toes to front wall and bend your right knee directly over right ankle. Spread those toes.
  3. Ground down the outside edge of that back foot and draw up through the inside of the arch.
  4. Feel the inside of your thighs open towards the outside edge of your feet. Extend your arms out through the fingertips as you draw the shoulder blades together. Let the top of the shoulders drop away from the ears. Gaze over your right middle finger.
  5. Shoulders over hips. Elbows roughly over knees. Head above tailbone. Smile, above all.
  6. Continue to ground down as you inhale. Continue to expand as you exhale. Mix it up. See where it takes you.

Modifications: Place hands on hips. Interlace fingers behind back (yoga mudra). Get creative. Take it slow!

Beginners Tip: To make sure your knee is directly above the ankle, look past the kneecap. If you see a large portion of the top of your foot (or, conversely, no foot at all), bend your knee until you see the tips of your toes peeking past the edge. There, you did it. Now enjoy the burn!

Deepen the Pose: To increase the length and strength of the arms in the pose, turn the palms and inner elbow creases to face the ceiling while you draw the shoulder blades down the back. Inhale, bend the elbows, draw the palms in towards the shoulders. Exhale, extend the hands out as your draw the shoulder blades in and flip the palms back towards the ground.

Well done, yogi.