Friday, August 23, 2013

Fitness Friday - Warrior One Pose

Fitness Friday this week will see a return to yoga poses and this will be the topic for the next few Fridays.  I have been diving deeper into my yoga practice and want to learn more each time that I have a lesson.  Today we are going to start looking at some of the poses that are contained in the Warrior series, there are quite a few poses in this series and the difficulty level ranges from easy to quite difficult.  Warrior One is the beginning pose in this sequence and one of the easier ones to master so we will start with this pose today.

The first Warrior pose is known as Warrior One and is contained in the first Primary Series and used in nearly ever single class that I have attended this summer.  It is a standing pose and has helped me to feel more balanced when standing in yoga poses and when sequencing in and out of poses.  It is also the first pose to master when beginning to learn how to flow between the rest of the Warrior Poses. 

I found more information and pose directions from the Yoga Journal website and I will share that information here so that you all can try to master this pose.  "Virabhadra’s Pose is also known as the Warrior Pose (there are three variation of Warrior, of which this is customarily numbered I). It may seem strange to name a yoga pose after a warrior; after all, aren’t yogis known for their non-violent ways? But remember that one of the most revered of all the yoga texts, the Bhagavad-Gita, is the dialog between two famous and feared warriors, Krishna and Arjuna, set on a battlefield between two great armies spoiling for a fight.  What’s really being commemorated in this pose’s name, and held up as an ideal for all practitioners, is the “spiritual warrior,” who bravely does battle with the universal enemy, self-ignorance (avidya), the ultimate source of all our suffering."

Here are the step by step instructions from the same website.

- Stand in Tadasana (Mountain Pose). With an exhale, step or lightly jump your feet 31/2 to 4 feet apart. Raise your arms perpendicular to the floor (and parallel to each other), and reach actively through the little-finger sides of the hands toward the ceiling. Firm your scapulas against your back and draw them down toward the coccyx.

- Turn your left foot in 45 to 60 degrees to the right and your right foot out 90 degrees to the right. Align the right heel with the left heel. Exhale and rotate your torso to the right, squaring the front of your pelvis as much as possible with the front edge of your mat. As the left hip point turns forward, press the head of the left femur back to ground the heel. Lengthen your coccyx toward the floor, and arch your upper torso back slightly.

- With your left heel firmly anchored to the floor, exhale and bend your right knee over the right ankle so the shin is perpendicular to the floor. More flexible students should align their right thigh parallel to the floor.

- Reach strongly through your arms, lifting the ribcage away from the pelvis. As you ground down through the back foot, feel a lift that runs up the back leg, across the belly and chest, and up into the arms. If possible, bring the palms together. Spread the palms against each other and reach a little higher through the pinky-sides of the hands.  Keep your head in a neutral position, gazing forward, or tilt it back and look up at your thumbs.

- Stay for 30 seconds to a minute. To come up, inhale, press the back heel firmly into the floor and reach up through the arms, straightening the right knee. Turn the feet forward and release the arms with an exhalation, or keep them extended upward for more challenge. Take a few breaths, then turn the feet to the left and repeat for the same length. When you’re finished return to Tadasana.

This is the first Warrior position that I learned and then I was able to begin with the second Warrior pose right after it.  Yoga Journal states that this pose is a good beginning pose to work into Warrior Three and then into further back bends.  I have seen Warrior 3 demonstrated but have not tried it myself yet.  Since I plan to work through the Warrior poses on my next few Fitness Fridays, I will be trying it out with my teacher in the next few days. 

Warrior One helps to both strengthen and stretch the arms, shoulders, and many of the leg muscles.  I have found that it especially works my shoulders and then helps to lengthen tight hamstrings.  I struggled with my balance the first times that I tried it out and have been able improve over the past few weeks and should be able to improve into the other Warrior poses in the coming weeks.

photo courtesy of Yoga Journal

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