Reverse Warrior Pose

Reverse Warrior Yoga Pose
Reverse Warrior Yoga Pose. Kris Hanke / Getty Images

Also Known As: Proud Warrior, Peaceful Warrior, Crescent Pose

Type of Pose: Standing

Benefits: Strengthens the legs, opens the side body, improves spinal mobility, improves balance and core strength.

Yoga has a lot of forward bends and backbends, but a side bend is a little rarer. The intercostal muscles between the ribs are hard to get to but they need your attention too. That's why although it's possible to do reverse warrior as a deep backbend, it's more beneficial to approach it primarily as a side bend.

You may be wondering what the difference is. Practically speaking, it means the idea is not to go for the full spinal extension of a deep backbend. It really does not matter how far down your leg you can get your left hand.

When going for a side stretch, it helps to reach your right arm up first and back second. The upward momentum toward the ceiling emphasizes the stretch along that side of the body. In a back-bending scenario, you would want to extend equally along both sides. Once you have a nice, long side body, you can start to reach backwards but you may find you don't actually move very much. And that is just fine. 

Instructions:

1. Begin in warrior II with your right foot forward. Lean your torso toward the front of your mat and then circle your right hand up toward the ceiling for a big stretch along your right side. Keep your right arm plugged in to the shoulder socket, however. Your left hand comes down to rest on the back of your left thigh.

 

2. Don't put any weight into your back hand because your support should come from your core strength instead of from your hand resting on your leg. 

3. Keep your right knee bent directly over your ankle. A lot of times as you lean your upper body backwards, the front knee goes with it. Make a conscious effort to maintain a deep bend in your front knee.

 

4. Bring your gaze up to the right fingertips.

5. Hold for five breaths and then switch sides.

Beginners' Tips

1. After you have set up your arms, check in on your legs and then deepen the front knee so that it is directly over your ankle if necessary.

2. If it's difficult for you to balance, try taking the gaze down to your left foot instead of up at your right fingertips. You can also take your feet a bit wider toward either side of your mat if you feel wobbly. 

Advanced Tips

1. Wrap your left arm behind your back, reaching the left hand for the inner right thigh. If you make that connection, use the traction to open your chest more toward the ceiling. 

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