My friend and I test out a bunch of poses before choosing one for me to do, and then write about. Cycling through the different Warrior Poses demonstrated in short order just how powerful they are.
Warrior one is the basis for the rest. Start by standing up straight, step your left leg back 3-4 feet, turn your left foot at a 45° angle. Bend your right knee so it is directly over your ankle and your thigh is parallel to the floor. You may need to take a bigger step to get the alignment right. It can be scary to do so but alignment is important and as you practice, you will get stronger. Keep your hips pointing forward and on an inhale, bring your arms up over your head. I like to touch my hands over my head in prayer position but I have seen many people in many classes keep their palms separated shoulder’s distance apart. Whatever is best for you. Add a subtle back-bend to open the heart and gaze up at the fingertips. Reverse out and repeat on the other side.
Warrior Two is similar but the arms are held out to the side, parallel with the legs, with the head looking forward. The back foot is at a 90° angle. Again, with the front leg, make sure your knee is over your ankle, you can sneak a peel and check that you can still see your right toes on the inside of your right knee. Sink your hips low and stretch your arms out nice and strong.
In the above photo, I am doing Humble Warrior Pose, or Warrior I with an Interlaced Fold Variation. Release your arms and bring them behind your back, interlacing the fingers. Reach your interlaced fingers down your back opening your chest before bending your upper body forward and down inside your right knee. Your arms go up towards the sky and your head reaches for the floor. Again, try to keep the alignment – the right knee over your ankle, your right thigh parallel to the floor, your hips squared. This is a pose that I LOVE and will hold as long as possible, breathing in to it, going a little bit deeper. I clearly should have taken a wider step but my boots were slipping!
The benefits are many. Warrior poses stretch, strengthen and expand. It stretches your hip flexors, abdomen and ankles. The pose strengthens your arms, shoulders and the muscles in your back. It strengthens your legs as well, developing stamina and endurance in your thighs and core muscles. And it expands your chest, lungs and shoulders, stimulating abdominal organs and digestion.
Beyond all of that, it opens the heart. There is a vulnerability to Warrior Poses. But holding them, allowing yourself to open up is actually empowering. The Warrior poses are aptly named. Every time I stand in Warrior Two I feel myself straightening my back, lengthening my neck and flexing my arm. Yoga warrior indeed!
Damn my thigh looks big: old me would think
I was deeper in to that pose than I realized: thinks the new me