Warrior I

Sanskrit: Virabhadrasana I

The first of the three Warrior poses is a dynamic, forward-facing pose which strengthens the legs, stretches the hip flexors and opens up the chest, and shoulders. A very powerful pose which will challenge your balance, strength, mental focus and endurance.

In a hatha class, you will step into Warrior I from Mountain Pose (Tadasana). In a flow or vinyasa class you will usually transition into Warrior I from Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana).

The instructions below assume a starting position of Mountain Pose.

How to get into the pose:

  • From Mountain Pose, inhale and take a big step back with your left foot. Turn your left foot out at somewhere between 90 and 45 degrees. Press down strongly into your back foot, especially along the outer edge. Try to practice the pose with your heels in line.

  • Make sure your right foot still faces 12 o’clock. Exhale to bend your right knee, aligning the knee directly over your heel.

  • Continue to press into your back foot and see if you can draw your pelvis and ribcage to face the top of your mat. With the right foot forward this will involve moving the right hip back and the left hip forward. Don’t force the movement.

  • Inhale to bring your arms overhead, either with your palms together or facing each other.

  • Draw your shoulders down, away from the ears.

  • Draw your abdominal muscles in and up (engage uddiyana bandha).

  • Take deep breaths.

  • To release the pose, inhale to straighten your leg and exhale to step your left foot to the top of the mat to Mountain pose.

  • Repeat the pose on the left side.

Remember to create the balance between effort and ease in your pose.

How long to stay in the pose:

  • Five breaths on each side

Gaze (Drishti)

  • Hands

  • Straight ahead

Modifications you can take to make this pose more accessible:

  • Take your feet a little wider if it is too much with heels in line

  • Palms facing rather than hands in prayer

  • Decrease the bend in the knee if you have knee issues

  • Don’t look up if you have neck issues

Contraindications / Cautions:

  • Be cautious in this pose if you have back, knee or neck issues