Warrior I - Virabhadrasana I

How to Do Warrior I - Virabhadrasana I
Warrior I - Virabhadrasana I. Ann Pizer

Type of pose: Standing, slight backbend

Benefits: Strengthens the legs and upper arms, improves balance and core strength, stretches the muscles around the hips


1. From downward facing dog, step your right foot forward to the inside of your right hand.

2. Pivot on the ball of your left foot and drop your left heel to the floor with your toes turned out about 45 degrees from the heel.

3. Bend your right knee directly over your right ankle so that your right thigh is parallel to the floor.

4. Rise to standing, bringing your arms out to the side and up toward the ceiling. Your chest stays open as you come into a slight spinal extension (also known as a backbend).

5. Your palms can touch overhead or stay shoulder's distance apart, whichever is more comfortable. (See Aunt Yoga's advice for more arm variations.)

6. Lift your gaze up toward your thumbs and slide your shoulder blades down the back.

7. Check the alignment of your hips. Draw your right hip back and your left hip forward so that both hips are squared to the front of your mat. (See the tips below if this is confusing.)

8. Ground down through the outer edge of your left foot. Make sure your right thigh is still as parallel to the floor as possible.

9. Drop your hands to your mat and step your right leg back to downward dog. Take a few breaths or move through a vinyasa before doing the left side. 

Beginners Tips:

The trickiest part of this pose is squaring your hips to the front.

Though warrior I has traditionally be taught with the heel of the front foot lined up with the arch of the back foot (like standing on a tightrope), it makes more sense for most people to separate their feet to either side of the mat a bit more (like standing on train tracks). This separation allows the hips to square more effectively.

If you don't have a feeling for what squaring the hips to the front means, place your hands on your waist and feel for the bony part of your pelvis that sticks out on both sides. We call these the hip points. Imagine that they are the headlights of a car and they should face the front of the mat. You can feel if they are at an angle instead of facing forward. Draw the front leg side back and the rear leg side forward until you get your headlights in the right position. Step your feet further toward each side of the mat if necessary. 

Advanced Tips:  

Challenge yourself to build strength by going for a long hold time, maybe up to ten breaths.

Incorporate this pose into a flow as part of the Warrior Sequence.

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