In Yoga, Warrior Poses (Virabhadrasana) require strength, steadiness, concentration and focus. They increase body awareness, and improve circulation and respiration, thus energizing and rejuvenating the whole body. There are several variations — Warrior 1, 2 and 3, as well as Exalted Warrior. All of these poses involve standing, either in a lunge position or on one leg, with arms extended, held straight in various positions, and with muscles active and at the ready. Arms, hands and the gaze can be in various positions. All of the Warrior Poses can challenge our balance (particularly Warrior 3!). Perfecting them can help inspire the confidence we all need to help us be our true, authentic selves.
Warrior 1 (<em>Virabhadrasana I</em>) is part of the series of poses in many of the versions of Sun Salutations. The pose stretches one’s chest, lungs, shoulders, neck, abdomen and groin, and opens the hips. Despite standing still, the pose is vigorous, as all one’s muscles are alert and active, which strengthens the legs, shoulders, arms and back. Doing Warrior 1 builds power in the ankles, calves and thighs. Although it seems easy enough for beginners, to really perfect the alignment to keep the hip bones facing forward, the front leg bent to 90 degrees, and the back leg turned 75 degrees outward, takes time and much practice.
Warrior Two (<em>Virabhadrasana II</em>) is another of my favourite yoga poses. It helps to keep my mind rooted and balanced in the present moment, as I make sure that I’m not leaning too far forward with worries about the future or leaning too far back with any regrets about the past. It is also done from a lunge position, with all of the benefits lunges provide. Holding this dynamic pose builds endurance while strengthening one’s legs, back, arms and shoulders. Turning the arms so that the palms face upwards can help keep the shoulder blades down the back and relaxed. Warrior 2 (<em>Virabhadrasana 2</em>) also improves the mobility of one’s pelvis and the flexibility of one’s hip muscles. It is a wonderful pose to do with another person in <a title=\"Partner Yoga\" href=\"http://naturewise.me/yoga/photo-gallery/partner-yoga/\">Partner Yoga</a>.
Warrior Three (<em>Virabhadrasana III</em>) is a difficult balance and provides the greatest challenge of all of the Warrior Poses. However, learning to stand on one leg is extremely effective for enhancing one’s balance and posture, and powers of focus and concentration. This is incredibly helpful in ridding the mind of negative thought clutter and thus relieving stress, so much of which is created by our internal dialogue of worries, interpretations of facts and things to do. At the same time, Warrior Three (<em>Virabhadrasana III</em>) strengthens the feet, ankles, legs, back, abdomen, shoulders and arms. Reaching back confidently with the extended flexed foot and maintaining an active back leg, aids stability. One of the most challenging and essential refinements as you gain experience is to level the hips. The tendency at first will be to have the side of the hip where the leg is extended higher than the side of the hip above the standing leg. Adopting a playful approach to this pose helps make it fun.
Exalted Warrior: Also known as Reverse Warrior (<em>Viparita Virabhadrasana</em>) or the Crescent Pose, this pose provides an amazing stretch for the back, front and side body, helping to increase spinal flexibility. Likewise, it builds strength and flexibility in the legs, especially the thigh and groin muscles, as well as the abdomen and waist. It is reputed to reduce fatigue, relieve backaches, and burn excess calories. Like other Warrior Poses, it helps to clear cobwebs of the mind. Plus, it just feels good to do - very empowering!