Get Fierce With This Sequence of Warrior Poses

If you're looking for a quick, invigorating sequence of standing poses for your home practice, you'd do well to focus on the five warrior poses. Though you may be familiar with these poses, there is a lot of subtle detail you can bring to the alignment while also strengthening your legs and core and working on forward bending and back bending. Do a few sun salutations first to warm up if you have time (and refer to our suggested sequences if you want to design a longer session). Decide ahead of time how many breaths you want to hold each pose in order to customize the intensity of the sequence. If you're not sure, start with three breaths per pose. For a more cardio sequence, move to a new pose on each breath.

Start in Mountain Pose (Tadasana)

Begin by coming to stand at the front of your mat in mountain pose. Taking several breaths here is a good way to bring the body to a neutral position and begin to tune into your alignment. On the inhales, try rolling the shoulders open so your palms turn up, which helps bring your shoulder blades onto your back.

Warrior I (Virabhadrasana I)

Woman in Warrior I
Tatiana Kolesnikova / Getty Images

Step your left foot toward the back of your mat to come into warrior I. Bring the left heel to the floor and turn the toes out to about a 45-degree angle. Begin to bend your right knee so it comes over the ankle. You may need to adjust the length of your stance (front to back). You can also widen your stance (side to side) for greater stability. Make sure to keep the position of your hips that same as it was in mountain pose, that is, hips pointing forward.

On an inhale, bring your arms up over your head. The arm position can vary according to the mobility in your shoulders. The classic position is with the palms touching overhead, but you may choose to keep the palms separated at shoulder's distance apart or even to bend at the elbows and open your arms like a cactus. A subtle backbend opens the heart and the gaze comes up to the fingertips.

Humble Warrior Pose

Humble Warrior pose
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Release your arms and bring them behind your back, interlacing your fingers in preparation for humble warrior. Reach your clasped hands down your back and puff up your chest before forward bending your upper body inside your right knee. The arms go up toward the sky and the crown of your head reaches the floor. Try to keep your right knee deeply bent, your hips squared to the front of your mat, and to avoid resting your shoulder on your front knee.

Warrior II (Virabhadrasana II)

Warrior II - Virabhadrasana II
Warrior II - Virabhadrasana II. © Ann Pizer

Rise up and release your arms. Let the right arm come forward and the left arm back for warrior II. You may lengthen your stance as you open the hips to face the side of the mat. Make sure that your right knee is still deeply bent over the right ankle. There is a tendency for the right knee to creep toward the center, so check that you can still see your right toes on the inside of your right knee. Engage your quads and sink the hips a little lower.

Reverse Warrior

Yoga Pose Reverse Warrior
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Come into reverse warrior, by raising your right arm overhead and letting your left arm slide down the left leg. Try to keep a light touch on the left leg instead of resting all your weight there. The front knee stays deep as you go for a big side stretch.The front knee stays deep as you go for a big side stretch.

Warrior III (Virabhadrasana III)

Asian woman make yoga Warrior pose on foot
Prasit photo / Getty Images

Release your right arm by your side and pivot onto the ball of your left foot in preparation for warrior III. Your hips return to the square warrior I position. Straighten your right leg as you lift your left foot off the floor. Your upper body and lifted left leg come parallel to the floor. The choice of arm variation is up to you. You can keep the arms straight by your sides or swing them forward in line with the torso.

After you have stayed for your intended number of breaths, simply drop the left foot next to your right and come back up to stand in mountain pose. Stay here for several breaths to regain your alignment. Notice the differences between the two sides of your body before moving on to do the sequence on the other side.

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