Virabhadrasana 1 (Warrior 1)
How to do it
Begin standing with feet hip distance apart, one foot forward, arms down.
Inhale: Bend your front knee and raise your arms up making sure that the chest ends up slightly in front of the hips.
Exhale: Lower your arms and straighten your leg.
Repeat several times and then stay in the pose.
Breathing in Virabhadrasana 1
Exhale: Gradually contract your abdomen from the pubic bone toward the navel.
Inhale: Lift your chest forward and up, away from your hips WHILE MAINTAINING a partial abdominal contraction (the lower part of the abdomen will remain engaged).
Exhale: Reengage your abdomen from the bottom to the top, keeping your lower body stable and grounded, pulling your back heel down toward the floor.
Continue to breathe like that, emphasizing the length of the spine on the inhale and abdominal support on the exhale.
Virabhadrasana 1: Y-shape targets a very specific area of your upper back – the lower potion of trapezius muscle that can be rather hard to get to. It is also easier on the neck than the traditional arms-up Warrior 1 version and is particularly useful for those who have limited range of motion in the shoulders and thoracic spine.
Virabhadrasana 1: Open-close works great for releasing tension in the upper back and neck. It’s one of the best poses to do after hours of computer work. In addition to loosening up the upper back and neck, it helps you stretch your hip flexors and facilities deeper breathing.
Virabhadrasana 1: Pull down strengthens the latissimus dorsi muscles and helps to stretch the neck. When you pull the arms down, imagine that you are pulling them against resistance – this will intensify the work and increase the strengthening effect.
Virabhadrasana: Push-pull is one of the best poses to do after staring at the computer for a while. It increases circulation to the neck and upper back and helps to loosen them up. Be sure to maintain abdominal contraction throughout the movement, especially when you are pushing with your hands. Move the chin slightly up when you pull, and slightly down when you push.
Virabhardasana 1: “Beach ball” is fantastic for creating a sense of spaciousness in the upper back. To put your shoulder blades into the proper position for this version, be sure to keep the arms parallel to the ground throughout the movement. Move the chin up and down to stretch your neck.
Virabhadrasana 1: “Robot arms” is one of the best moves to target the sides of the neck. It helps to release neck tension and mobilizes the shoulders without stressing them. Be sure the keep your elbows at about 90% angle throughout the movement.
Virabhadrasana 1: Hitchhiker is great for loosening up the shoulders and relieving shoulder tension. We spend most of our days with our shoulders rotated internally – this pose reverses that tendency. It is particularly useful for students with more pronounced thoracic curves. Those with flatter upper backs need to make sure that they actively rotate the arms inward, as well. And the most important part: the arms need to rotate from the shoulders, not the forearms!
Virabhadrasana 1: Wrist stretch is very useful for stretching and strengthening both wrists and forearms. Be sure to move the wrists in a fluid motion both on the way up and on the way down. It can be a great preparation for arm-weight-bearing poses or anytime you want to loosen up the wrists.
One arm up
Virabhadrasana 1: One arm up emphasizes the stretch on one side of the body, especially the hip flexors. If you find your student torquing the pelvis or collapsing the torso on the opposite side, it might be best to keep both arms extended up instead of one.
Virabhadrasana 1: Knee-hand press works great for engaging the outer hip. Be sure to keep your front knee over the ankle at all times as you press your front knee and hand on the same side into each other. This type of passive resistance is great for building hip strength, especially in hip abductors.
Virabhadrasana 1: Arms back provides an intense stretch in the chest and shoulders. You can experiment with keeping your fingers interlaced behind you (which will keep your shoulders internally rotated), or turning the elbow creases outward (which will rotate your shoulders externally). The second version is less stressful for the shoulders and is accessible to most students. Whatever you do, be sure to keep both sides of the neck long.
Virabhadrasana: Integrative works very well to manifest certain ideas in your practice. Touching your belly, then your chest, then your head can be used to symbolize bringing light and new energy to those areas, or linking instinct with emotions and mind, or bringing awareness to the chakras, and so on. In this context, the arm movements become nyasas (symbolic gestures).
Virabhadrasana 1: Palms up actively stretches the chest and both sides of the torso, but it can be quite stressful for folks with limited range of motion in the shoulders or kyphotic backs. It is also a good stretch for wrists and forearms.
Virabhadrasana 1: With Chair has the same benefits as regular Virabhadrasana with an added benefit of chair support for those who need a bit more help with balance. Be sure not to lean on the chair. You can start with your whole hand on the chair and gradually work your way toward keeping just one finger touching the chair. It’s great for building balance confidence.
In a Chair
Virabhadrasana 1: In a Chair is useful in Chair yoga classes for those who cannot do standing poses easily. In addition, anybody who is looking for an intense stretch in the hip flexors can benefit from this pose. This pose can also be used to learn proper body positioning in Warrior 1 and how to regulate the position of the pelvis with abdominal contraction.
Virabhadrasana 1: Heel up-down strengthens the front hip and stretches the calf of the opposite leg. It also stretches the sides of the torso and strengthens your mid-back. It can be used for balance training, as well.
Virabhadrasana 1 + Parsvottanasana Combo works great for strengthening the front hip, stretching and strengthening the lower back and stretching the hamstrings. This combo can be pretty strong for some students, so you can make it a bit easier by placing your hands on your lower back instead of touching the ground in Parsvottanasana. Do not do this combo if your sacrum is flaring up.
Virabhadrasana 1 + 3
Virabhadrasana 1 + 3 Combo is very useful for strengthening the front hip and training balance. It also pulls on the hamstrings quite a bit. You can vary the intensity of this combo by how much you lean forward in Warrior 3. Do not do this combo if you have acute pain in the butt at the point where the hamstrings attach to the pelvis.