Friday, September 6, 2013

Fitness Friday - Warrior Three Pose

We are continuing our Fitness Fridays by working through the Warrior series of poses that are used in the yoga series.  I am still continuing to improve at Warrior Two and am making attempts at correctly getting into the Warrior Three pose that comes soon after.  Warrior Three is a challenging balance pose and I will often end up falling when working my way into this full pose...the wall is my best friend when working up into this asana and I have also grabbed onto a chair when playing around with this pose outside of the yoga studio.  I have not mastered this pose by any means and will need to continue to challenge my balance to stand unaided in the position.

Yoga Journal provides a picture of the full pose and a series of step by step instructions.  I have learned that arms can be in different places in this pose depending on the individuals' comfort level with balancing.  Arms reaching out in front is the full pose and is still out of my reach at times.  Arms can be extended back to help aide the balance or placed in front of the heart, either pose will help a beginner to feel more secure in the asana.

Here is how one would get into and hold the Warrior Three pose...

- Stand in Tadasana (Mountain Pose), exhale and fold foward to Uttanasana. From Uttanasana, exhale and step your left foot back into a high lunge position. Your right knee should be more or less at a right angle. Lay the midline of your torso (from the pubis to the sternum) down on the midline of the right thigh (from the knee to the hip crease) and bring your hands to your right knee, right hand to the outer knee, left hand to the inner. Squeeze the knee with your hands, lift your torso slightly, and with an exhalation, turn it slightly to the right.

- Now from the lunge position, stretch your arms forward, parallel to the floor and parallel to each other, palms facing each other. Exhale and press the head of the right thighbone back and press the heel actively into the floor. Synchronize the straightening of the front leg and the lifting of the back leg. As you lift the back leg, resist by pressing the tailbone into the pelvis.

- Normally students come up into Virabhadrasana III by lunging the torso forward. This tends to shift the body weight onto the ball of the front foot and unbalance the position. Don’t allow the torso to swing forward as you move into position; instead, as you straighten the front knee, think of pressing the head of the thighbone back. This centers the femur in the hip joint, grounds the heel into the floor, and stabilizes the position.

- The arms, torso, and raised leg should be positioned relatively parallel to the floor. For many students the pelvis tends to tilt. Release the hip [of the raised leg] toward the floor until the two hip points are even and parallel to the floor. Energize the back leg and extend it strongly toward the wall behind you; reach just as actively in the opposite direction with the arms. Bring the head up slightly and look forward, but be sure not to compress the back of your neck.

- Stay in this position for 30 seconds to a minute. Release back to the lunge on an exhalation. Bring your hands to the floor on either side of the right foot, and on an exhalation, step your left foot forward to meet your right. Stay in this forward bend for a few breaths, then repeat for the same length of time on the other side.

I need to be fully warmed up and well into an hour-long yoga session before this asana even becomes a possibility.  I usually have to spend some time in another type of standing or balancing pose to in order to start gaining my balance.  As I suggested above, first try the pose near a wall and with your hands in one of the alternate placement and I guarantee that it will come easier than trying to get right into the pictured pose. 

We have looked at three of the Warrior poses so far and next week we will look at the last one.  Technically there are two more after that however they are not used very often and are found in more advanced yoga classes so I will be putting them off until I can practice at a level that is high enough to make them a possibility.

photo courtesy of Yoga Journal

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