Virabhadrasana I: Warrior I
Virabhadrasana I, or Warrior I, is a standing yoga pose named after the mythical Hindu warrior, Virabhadra. Vira means ‘hero’, and bhadra means ‘auspicious’.
There’s an entire myth behind Virabhadra, and maybe we’ll cover that another day (actually we definitely will because I love myths behind the asanas!). The focus for this post is on the asana itself, so for now, know that Virabhadra was created by the god Shiva to avenge the death of his beloved, Sati.
Virabhadra was a ferocious warrior and Warrior I transforms the intensity of this deity into a pose that builds focus, power, and stability.
If you’re a more visual learner, scroll to the bottom and practice this pose with me on YouTube!
From Downward Facing Dog:
- Step the right foot in between the hands, next to the right thumb
- Bring the left heel to the ground, with the foot at a 45-degree angle (so the toes point towards the top, left corner of your mat)
- Bring hands to hips as you lift the torso
- Ensure that there is a space in between the feet (like you’re standing on railroad tracks, not on a tightrope)
- Hips face directly forward
- Lift the arms by the side of the ears
- Pull pubic bone towards navel to reduce the arch in the low back and keep the core active
- Press firmly into the outer edge of the back foot & inner edge of the front foot
- Feel as though you could wrinkle up the mat beneath your feet – isometrically pulling the feet towards each other
- You can keep your arms parallel, or press your palms together
- Keep your shoulders away from your ears
- Gently bring the gaze up to your thumbs, without crunching the neck
- If it’s difficult to keep your back heel grounded, place the heel on a firm blanket
- If your hips are very tight, step your feet as wide apart as necessary; this will give you more room to square the hips as you work on gaining flexibility.
- If your shoulders are tight, keep your arms shoulder-distance apart, or wider, when they are raised.
- Place your hands on your hips if you have a shoulder injury or if you are only focusing on the lower body
- If you have any neck issues, keep the head in a neutral position and do not look up at the hands
- Strengthens legs and pelvis muscles
- Open hips
- Improves balance and postur
- Stretches and strengthens the ankles, calves, thighs, and back
- Improves mobility in shoulders and opens chest and lungs
- Develops stamina, balance, and coordination
- Tones the abdomen, ankles, and arches of the feet