Virabhadrasana II – Warrior II / Asana series 3

I’m sure we all have our favorite Yoga postures; those postures that we crave for or that we just enjoy doing.
Well, for me, Virabhadrasana II is among the top ones, together with Trikonasana (Triangle) and Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon). But today I want to concentrate on Virabhadrasana II also referred to as Vira II or simply Warrior II.
I consider this posture the foundation for many standing postures that are quite challenging in terms of balance, but if we have a solid Warrior, we will be able to perform those other postures with ease.
Apart from all the physical benefits: improves breathing capacity as it opens the chest, strengthens and stretches the legs, stretches the groins, stimulates the abdominal organs…, what I love the most about this posture are the emotional effects. This is a posture that teaches us to face difficult situations with an open heart and a calm mind, and that is always a good thing to learn specially in the hectic reality we live nowadays.
Yes, that is the true secret behind this posture, trying to find that inner calmness that will help us achieve plenty of stability. When we are able to find that peace of mind, we can hold this posture forever feeling completely light and open. And imagine what our inner warrior can conquer if we manage to achieve this emotional state of mind!
In terms of technicality, I’d say that the common problems with this pose are the alignment of the front knee, the torso and the hips, without forgetting the struggle to keep the arms relaxed but active. So here are some handy tips that should keep you away from injuries and will allow you to enjoy all the benefits from this posture.
Check the alignment of your body before you even try to bend the front knee. A good way to learn this is to use the help of a wall behind the back to ensure that the hips, legs and torso are aligned in the right direction; it will also help you a lot if you have issues with balancing. And here I’d like to make a remark: when using props, try not to create a dependency on them, but use them to help your body memorize the sensations so you can then recreate the same without the support of the props (the wall in this case).
The mistake that I see more often in this posture is the tendency to rotate the knees inwards which is really bad for the knees. You have to make sure the knees are in the same line with the hips and the feet. That’s why before you even bend the knee, you should make sure that both feet are properly aligned (when you stand with your feet apart, rotate the front foot at 90 degrees pointing forward, and back foot at 45 degrees also towards the front), the hips are open and both thighs are rotating outward. Remember the domino effect on the postures, and how misaligned feet can create misaligned knees and hips. If it is still difficult for you to keep the outer rotation of the front thigh, you can try bringing the front foot slightly in, so instead of aligning the feet heel to heel, you can align the front foot heel to the arch of the back foot. At all times keep the four corners of your feet in touch with the ground for more stability. You can also use your hands on your thighs to roll them out; this will help you understand the action.
The outer rotation of the thighs is a key point for the correct alignment in this posture, but don’t force it. You have to get there slowly; otherwise you might injure your hips. Also with time you will be able to find how far apart your feet should be to ensure that your front knee rests right on top of your front ankle (not farther front or behind it) until you finally reach the point where your front thigh is parallel to the floor with your knee bending at a perfect ninety degree angle!
When it comes to the torso, most students tend to lean forward, towards the front knee. For this one, I recommend the students to swing back and forward until they find their own center. Make sure at all times that you are lengthening your lower back, pointing the tip of your spine towards the ground; imagine that someone is pulling you down from your tailbone towards the ground while at the same time is pulling you up from the crown of your head towards the sky, kind of stretching your spine; this way you won’t sink into the posture. This action also helps on the opening of the hips.
Regarding the arms, I think it can be the most challenging thing of this posture for many. All the stress of the posture materializes on the arms and the shoulders and they feel quite heavy and painful. Well, what I recommend for this one is not to perceive the movement as a lift but as a stretch, try to lengthen in opposite directions from the shoulder blades to the tips of your fingers. I always encourage my students to think about the actions in a different way to make the postures easier, if you feel you are lifting the arms they will feel absolutely heavier than when you are stretching them. It is very important here to have the shoulders relaxed. If you are feeling lots of tension here, rotate the palms up bringing this rotation all the way up to the shoulders and then rotate down from your elbows to your hands. The arms will feel empowered and the chest will immediately open.
I think the core of this posture is down in the hips, right at the first chakra. Try to feel the energy lifting from the base of your torso and expanding in your chest. Keep reaching down with your tailbone to release the lower back; this will allow you to deepen into the pose.
To finalize, I invite you to try practicing your next Warrior II concentrating on what is going on inside, and see how that changes the way you perform or feel this pose! Try to find the quality of your inner Warrior! Feel the energy flowing and expanding from your heart!
As I always tell my students: “It can be a happy Warrior”!!!

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