Virabhadrasana 3 (Warrior 3)

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How to do it

Begin standing with your feet about hip-distance apart, arms along the body.

Inhale: Raise your arms up and shift your weight to your left leg.

Exhale: Slowly lean forward raising your right leg up behind you. Try to keep your upper body and your back leg in one line.

Inhale: Lower you leg and lift back up, returning to the starting position.

Breathing in Virabhadrasana 3

Inhale: Lengthen your spine and reach forward with your fingertips (if your arms are extended forward) or the top of your head (if your arms are out to the sides), stretch back through your raised leg. Do your best to keep your pelvis leveled with the floor.

Exhale: Gradually contract your abdomen from the pubic bone toward the navel to create stability in the torso. Continue to actively lift your back leg.

Pose adaptations

Easy version

Virabhadrasana 3: Easy version is accessible to most people and is a useful tool for balance training. It can be a good introductory move to help students properly arrange their body in space and challenge their balance more gradually.

Arms back

Virabhadrasana 3: Arms back facilitates the chest opening and engages the upper and middle back more strongly. It also stretches the fronts of the shoulders. We have to be careful not to exaggerate the curve of the lower back and maintain abdominal contraction to support the back.

Arms out in stages

Virabhadrasana 3: Arms out in stages is easier for the shoulders and the neck and helps to engage the muscles between the shoulder blades. Moving into the pose in stages allows students to ease their way into the pose and choose the intensity that suits them in the moment. This is also good for dynamic balance training.

Hands on upper back

Virabhadrasana 3: Hands on upper back intensifies the stretch in the sides of the torso and your triceps area. It is particularly useful if you intend to do deep backbends with arms over your head (like Wheel pose) or hands-on-the-upper-back poses (like Cow face pose) later in the practice. Be mindful of the position of your head here and make sure that you do not strain your neck or shoulders.

With chair seat

Virabhadrasana 3: With chair seat is a more stable version of the pose. Here it’s easier to establish a firm foundation of the pose and then gradually challenge your balance by taking one hand off the chair and then another one. If your chair has arms, you can put your hands there to make it easier for your hamstrings.

Hands on chair back

Virabhadrasana 3: Hands on chair back is less challenging from the balancing prospective, but more challenging for the hamstrings of the supporting leg and the muscles that hold the raised leg up, because you end up leaning deeper into the pose. This version would be appropriate at times when you are intending to stretch your hamstrings or strengthen your hips. However, it only makes sense to do it if you can keep you pelvis leveled and keep your back leg in line with the spine.