Virabhadrasana II | Warrior II Pose
(veer-ah-bah-DRAHS-anna) Named for a fierce warrior, this version of Warrior Pose increases stamina and strength.
Virabhadra = the name of a fierce warrior, an incarnation of Shiva, described as having a thousand heads, a thousand eyes, and a thousand feet, wielding a thousand clubs, and wearing a tiger’s skin
Type of pose: Standing
Warrior II Pose Benefits
• Strengthens and stretches the legs and ankles, hip flexors and knee extensors
• Relieves backaches, especially through second trimester of pregnancy
• Stretches the groins, chest, lungs, and shoulders
• Therapeutic for carpal tunnel syndrome, flat feet, infertility, osteoporosis, and sciatica
• Stimulates abdominal organs
• Increases stamina
• High blood pressure
• Cardiac condition, heart palpitations
• Neck problems: Don’t turn your head to look over the front hand; continue to look straight ahead with both sides of the neck lengthened evenly.
Step by Step
• Stand in Tadasana. With an exhalation, step or lightly jump your feet 3 to 4 feet apart. Raise your arms parallel to the floor and reach them actively out to the sides, shoulder blades wide, palms down.
• Turn your right foot in slightly to the right (10 ° ) and your left foot out to the left 90 ° . When you turn your foot out to 90 ° , open the hips to the side of the mat, dropping the sacrum down. Align the left heel with the right heel [i) heel to heel or ii)heel to arch]. Firm your thighs and turn your left thigh outward so that the center of the left knee cap is in line with the center of the left ankle.
• Exhale and bend your left knee over the left ankle, so that the shin is perpendicular to the floor. Lower your weight as strength and flexibility permit and if possible, bring the left thigh parallel to the floor. Anchor this movement of the left knee by strengthening the right leg and pressing the outer right heel firmly to the floor. This helps take the weight off the front knee. Work the muscles of both inner thighs up toward each other into the groin, as well as activating Mula Bandha.
• Stretch the arms away from the space between the shoulder blades, parallel to the floor. Turn the palms up, rotating from the shoulder. Then, twisting from the wrists, rotate the palms downward keeping the arms parallel to the floor. Keep the arms and forearms in line with the shoulders and the lower extremities. Don’t lean the torso over the left thigh: Keep the sides of the torso equally long and the shoulders directly over the pelvis. Press the tailbone slightly toward the pubis. Turn the head to the left and look out over the middle finger.
• Hold the feet as flat as possible, being careful not to raise the outside edge of the back foot.
• Stay for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Inhale and straighten the bent leg to come up. Reverse the feet and repeat for the same length of time to the left.
Variation: In the instructions above, the shoulders are centered over the pelvis with the sides of the torso equally long. You can also lean the torso slightly away from the left leg, tilting the arms parallel to the line of the top shoulders. This stretches the left side of the torso. Repeat on the right side.
Beginners Tip: For beginners or those in poor physical condition, start with a narrower stance. Lower your weight into the posture gradually as able.
On the exhale, lower your weight down with control. Keep the bent knee in line with the ankle and foot.
Deepen the Pose: Increase the stance of the feet and lower your weight until the bent leg is perpendicular to the floor. 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. Then maintaining the rotation of the arms, turn the palms from the wrists to face the floor again.
Misalignments: Do not let the torso tilt or move over the bent thigh. The torso should be straight and perpendicular to the floor; Don’t let the front leg flex more than 90 degrees; Keep all the muscles of the extremities firm.