Friday, August 30, 2013

Fitness Friday - Warrior Two Pose

Last week we started to look at the Warrior series of yoga poses and looked at the first pose in that series.  Warrior One is used the most of the poses, it is part of the Second Sun Salutation that is used in nearly every class that I have taken over the past two months.  Today we are looking at the second pose in this series, a pose that I consider to be one of the beautiful yoga asanas and one that I struggled with for several weeks before finding correct alignment in the asana (asana = pose).  In fact, I still have to mentally correct and view my alignment when working into the pose and still do not consider myself to have "mastered" Warrior Two.

The Yoga Journal provides a description of the asana and then the best ways work in and out of it.  "Virabhadra = the name of a fierce warrior, an incarnation of Shiva, described as having a thousand heads, a thousand eyes, and a thousand feet, wielding a thousand clubs, and wearing a tiger’s skin."  This is one of the original asanas in yoga and is contained in the Primary Series of poses.

The step-by-step instructions to get into the pose...

- Stand in Tadasana (Mountain Pose). With an exhalation, step or lightly jump your feet 3 1/2 to 4 feet apart. Raise your arms parallel to the floor and reach them actively out to the sides, shoulder blades wide, palms down.

- Turn your right foot slightly to the right and your left foot out to the left 90 degrees. Align the left heel with the right heel. Firm your thighs and turn your left thigh outward so that the center of the left knee cap is in line with the center of the left ankle.

- Exhale and bend your left knee over the left ankle, so that the shin is perpendicular to the floor. If possible, bring the left thigh parallel to the floor. Anchor this movement of the left knee by strengthening the right leg and pressing the outer right heel firmly to the floor.

- Stretch the arms away from the space between the shoulder blades, parallel to the floor. Don’t lean the torso over the left thigh: Keep the sides of the torso equally long and the shoulders directly over the pelvis. Press the tailbone slightly toward the pubis. Turn the head to the left and look out over the fingers.

- Stay for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Inhale to come up. Reverse the feet and repeat for the same length of time to the left.

My biggest problems with the pose started with lack of balance, I could balance in the first Warrior pose but had large issues staying balanced in this pose.  If I was balanced, then I found that I wasn't in the pose correctly and my torso and shoulders were not directly over my pelvis.  I would end up with my torso at an angle and then could not correctly place my arms and then would have problems transitioning out of the pose.  Holding my arms was an issue when I first started working through the pose and this was corrected through arm strengthening exercises at the gym. 

The advice that is given in the four step is the best way to work correctly into the pose.  Rather than turning the head and allowing the shoulders and torso to follow, I have found it best to align the torso and shoulders and then simply turning the head. Using this type of motion is the only way that I can achieve correct alignment in the pose, it also helps me to envision that I have a wall behind my torso and I cannot twist my torso forward. 

Warrior Two is used in nearly every yoga class and is a beautiful pose once correct alignment is achieved.  One you have achieved your balance in this standing pose, you might be ready to start testing your balance by trying out the next pose in the Warrior series...

photo courtesy of Yoga Journal

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