Virabhadrasana II: Warrior II Pose
Warrior II, or virabhadrasana (veer-ah-bah-DRAHS-anna) II, is a strengthening pose that improves physical and mental endurance. Its ability to stretch your upper legs and ankles while also expanding your chest and shoulders makes it an essential foundational pose for most asana-based (pose-based) yoga practices.
Philosophy + Origin
While warrior II is a strong pose, it also requires balance and steadiness. Although many origin stories for virabhadrasana II describe the shape of the pose as the stance Virabhadra took as he drew his sword to remove the head of his enemy, any student who has practiced the pose will learn that, while fierce, there’s also a gentleness within the physical lines. The yogic philosophy of sthira sukha, or balancing effort with ease, can be applied when practicing warrior II. How can you harness your warrior spirit while not losing sight of your gentle spirit and your commitment to ahimsa, non-violence?
- Option to shorten the length of your stance or bend your back knee to relieve pressure in the knees.
- For added support, use a folding chair under your front thigh.
- Press your back heel into a wall for balance and support.
- Rather than looking over your front hand, look straight ahead and maintain length in both sides of the neck.
- Flip your palms face up to help soften the shoulders, then flip your palms back down.
- Step your right foot to the top of your mat, and your left foot 3-4 feet behind you. Point your right toes straight forward, and your left foot about parallel to the back of your mat. Draw an imaginary line from your right toes, to right heel, to left arch.
- Bend your right knee so it stacks right over your right ankle. Press equally into your feet.
- Square your shoulders to the left side of your mat and extend your arms out wide, parallel to the ground, palms face down.
- Keep your torso upright, shoulders stacked on your hips.
- Keep your gaze straight ahead, or turn your gaze to the fingertips of your right hand. Keep your breath even as you hold for up to 60 seconds. Inhale to straighten your front leg and release the posture. Repeat on the other side.
- Crescent lunge | Anjenayasana
- Gate pose | Parigrahasana
- Goddess pose | Utkata konasana
- Extended side angle | Utthita parsvakonasana
- Reverse warrior | Viparita virabhadrasana
- Triangle pose | Trikonasana
- Wide-legged forward fold | Prosarita paddotanasana
- Head to knee pose | Janu sirsasana
- Virabhadra = fierce warrior, incarnation of Shiva
- Asana = pose
- Stretches groins, thighs, ankles.
- Expands chest, lungs, shoulders.
- Improves balance.
- Increases mental focus and concentration.
- Builds mental stamina and endurance.
Ardha Hanumanasana: Half Front Splits Pose
Ardha hanumanasana (are-dah hah-new-mahn-AHS-ah-nah) is a big stretch for hamstrings. This pose is more approachable than full hanumanasana and strengthens the muscles needed to practice front splits safely with the correct muscles properly engaged.
Philosophy + Origin
One of the main characters of the Ramayana is Hanuman, the famous monkey god, devotee of Lord Rama, and son of Vayu (the god of wind). He is celebrated in the pose hanumanasana, which physically represents his famous “leap of faith,” taking him across the ocean from India to Sri Lanka. Ardha hanumanasana, the preparatory pose for hanumanasana, can represent the stability and strength needed to make grand, world-changing (or life-changing) gestures. Rather than only focusing on gaining flexibility, practice ardha hanumanasana to create a healthy balance of flexibility and strength. When practicing ardha hanumanasana, remind yourself of the dangers of only being flexible in life; in order to really get where you want to go, you must also be strong and stable.