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Warrior III | Virabhadrasana III

Begin in Warrior I Pose, placing the hands on the hips. Shift all of the weight to the front foot and, hinging at the front hip, begin to drop the torso forward. Simultaneously, lift the back leg up. Continue hinging at the front hip, lowering the torso and raising the back leg until both the torso and the back leg are parallel to the floor. The back foot can be pointed or flexed. Square the hip bones to the floor. Do not bend either knee, but do keep them “soft.” Extend the arms straight ahead, placing the biceps next to the ears. Stay in this pose for three or more breath cycles and then switch legs.

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Visualization Comments:

Imagine someone pulling the fingers forward in order to elongate the spine. Feel the head and neck naturally extending from the spine. Keep the neck neutral. As your fingers are being “pulled” forward, imagine that the back foot is being pulled back. Continue to lengthen the body from fingertips to toes.

Technical Comments:

Although it may seem counterintuitive, bringing the heel up higher in the back can make balancing in this pose easier. While you’re balancing, keep both hips bones squared to the floor. Picture an internal rotation of both legs. Pull the shoulder blades back and down the spine so the shoulders do not crowd the ears.

Remember, there are two options for the back foot. You may press out through the back heel or you may point the toe.

Benefit Comments:

  • Elongates and strengthens the spine.
  • Improves balance and concentration.
  • Stretches and strengthens the legs.
  • Strengthens the abdomen.

Watch out for:

Make sure you do not “lock” and/or hyper-extend the knee of the standing leg.

Contraindications

  • Not recommended for students with high blood pressure.
  • Chronic pain or recent injuries to the ankle, knee, or back

Modifications

If you are pregnant, you can do this pose. Use the back of a chair, the edge of a counter, or wall for support.

For balance issues, place the top of a folding chair along your abdomen. Start to hinge forward to Warrior III as described above. Use the seat of the chair as support for one of your hands as the other hand extends forward. Or, try placing the back foot on the wall as both hands extend forward.

If the arms get tired from extending forward, try these modifications: Place the arms along the sides of the body, place the hands on the hips, or bring the hands to Prayer Position.

There is no rule that says the leg and torso must be parallel to the floor to benefit from doing Warrior III. If the full expression of the pose is too much, try extending the back leg and both arms at a diagonal instead. Hinge slightly at the front hip and back off from the pose if it becomes uncomfortable

Variations

  • Sunbird Pose

Yoga Counter Poses


Written by: Amber Kocian RYT

Amber encourages students to test their limits, but gently reminds them to listen to and respect their bodies as they are each day. She believes that a safe, consistent yoga practice has the power to help anyone in every aspect of their lives.