Fresh Take Friday: Virabhadrasana 2 (Warrior 2 Pose)

It’s Friday, and today we’re taking a fresh look at Virabhadrasana 2 (Warrior 2 Pose). I’ve already written about the hip rotation involved in coming into this pose, and also about the alignment of the front knee. Today I want to give some love to the straight leg.

When the right knee is bent in this pose, there are a number of things that send our attention to the right. First, just bending the knee can sometimes send us to the right. Then, turning the gaze to the right as in the typical cueing also has a tendency to send all our attention to the right.

This can look like a few things – for example, leaning to the right, higher right arm, more weight in the right leg, shifting onto the inner edge of the left foot, wobbliness, or lack of connection to the left leg. It might also be experienced as a lack of awareness of the straight left leg and the left arm.

Virabhadrasana 2 (Warrior 2 Pose)
Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com

Sometimes, the practitioner (or teacher) tries to respond to these signs by correcting them once in the pose. This isn’t necessarily always a problem, but it can be hard to fully regain the strength and groundedness in the left side when we attempt to correct in this way, and it can also add tension and compensation on top of what’s already there.

Moving Well into Virabhadrasana 2

Instead of correcting once in the pose, I encourage practitioners to maintain your connection to the straight leg and its foot when coming into the pose to begin with. This way, you stay within your range of movement, your pose is more powerful and ease-filled, and no correction is necessary.

To come into Warrior 2 Pose:

  1. Step the legs wide, and move from the right hip to rotate the right foot 90 degrees to the right. See my earlier post for more on doing this movement.
  2. Bring the awareness to the soles of the feet. Find the contact between the tripod of each foot (big toe mound, pinky toe mound, and center of the heel bone) and the earth. Distribute your weight equally between these three points, and between the right and left foot. If you’re unable to distribute the weight evenly, try stepping the feet closer together.
  3. Bring your attention to the left foot. Maintain your connection between the tripod of the left foot and the earth as you bend the right knee over the second toe. Only bend the knee so far as you maintain your sense of groundedness in the left leg, and your connection into the tripod of both feet.
  4. Notice that as the knee bends, the thighbone moves in the hip socket. There’s no rocking or tilting of the pelvis as you move through the legs. In other words, the only movement at this stage is happening in the legs.
Photo credit: Chris Wojdak

Adding the arms and gaze:

  • One option is to keep the gaze in front of the chest as you bring the arms up, keeping your attention more centered. In the picture above, I varied the arm position and added a block, but you could also take the arms parallel to the earth.
  • If you’d like to take the gaze over the right fingertips, look to the left first and find a sense of the left arm reaching to the left. Maintain this connection to the left arm as you take the gaze to the right.

Coming out of the pose:

  • Maintain your connection to both feet and keep the movement happening in the legs and hips as you come up. The pelvis and spine stay quiet as you exit the pose.
Virabhadrasana 2 (Warrior 2 Pose)
Image credit: daverose215 on Flickr Creative Commons

Rather than the bent leg, the straight leg is the anchor and focal point in this version of the pose. Your experience in the straight leg (as well as keeping the pelvis and rib cage quiet as you move in and out of the pose) determines how much movement happens in the bent knee leg. Furthermore, this warrior is built from the feet up. Maintaining the connection at the feet allows the whole pose to be both lifted and grounded, powerful and filled with ease.

If you try this way of moving into Virabhadrasana 2, let me know how it goes in the comments.

The information, instruction, and advice contained in this post are in no way intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. All content is for general informational purposes only. Not all exercises are suitable for everyone. Consult your doctor before beginning this or any exercise program.

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