Virabhadrasana II: Warrior II Pose

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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?

ADJUSTMENTS/MODIFICATIONS:

  • 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-BY-STEP:

  1. 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.
  2. Bend your right knee so it stacks right over your right ankle. Press equally into your feet.
  3. Square your shoulders to the left side of your mat and extend your arms out wide, parallel to the ground, palms face down.
  4. Keep your torso upright, shoulders stacked on your hips.
  5. 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.

PREPARATORY POSES:

  • Crescent lunge | Anjenayasana
  • Triangle pose | Trikonasana
  • Gate pose | Parigrahasana

FOLLOW-UP POSES:

SANSKRIT:

  • Virabhadra = fierce warrior, incarnation of Shiva
  • Asana = pose

PHYSICAL BENEFITS:

  • Strengthens shoulders, arms, thighs, legs, ankles.
  • Stretches groins, thighs, ankles.
  • Expands chest, lungs, shoulders.
  • Improves balance.

ENERGETIC BENEFITS:

  • Increases mental focus and concentration.
  • Builds mental stamina and endurance.

MANTRA:

So Ham

So ham, which can be translated to mean “I Am,” is a mantra that is used to help bring balance to your emotional and physical bodies. When chanted or recited repeatedly, it creates a grounding and calming effect.

MUDRA: Rudra Mudra

Use this hand gesture to energize your physical body and empower your mind. Bring your thumb, index, and ring fingers together and allow your middle and pinky fingers to extend up.

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