Yogaru is here with her top tips for finding effort and ease in warrior I
Warrior I is one of the most commonly known foundational poses of yoga. It features in sun salutations B sequence. These are often used to build heat and energy; increase circulation; build focus and concentration; and stretch and strengthen your whole body. But can often be difficult to manage.
Warrior I is quite a statement pose in its own right and is challenging if practised at the start of your practise. It is best to start with the gentler sun salutation A to warm all the joints up first before taking warrior I as part of a flow. To find effort and ease in your expression of the pose it helps to explore some targeted stretching and strengthening before your arrive at warrior I.
Warrior I stretches the hip flexors, calf muscles, inner groin; and strengthens the quads, glutes, shoulders, spine and ankles. It is a complex pose for the back leg, and you are not alone if you find it very challenging to get that back heel comfortably grounded with the toes pointing forward. The hip joint of the back leg is externally rotated, to allow the heel to drop down, while the muscle action of the back leg is internal rotation. This can sometimes feel like the leg is fighting to find its position in the pose. It can manifest in discomfort in the knee joint if you are overzealous to reach that left hip forward in a squared position to the right hip.
Prepping for warrior I
While you are running through this sequence consider the ‘squaring of the hips’ instruction as a directional action rather than a definitive end point. Allow that left hip to be further back than the right hip if it is kinder to the knee joint.
Tightness in the calf muscle can often make the forward rotation of the back foot harder to access. In the warm up phase on the second line of the sequence you will flow from high lunge to warrior I to warm up and prepare your calf muscles. Gently press the heel towards the ground to stretch out the calf muscle in warrior I before you lift back up again to high lunge.
Regardless of weather your hips are squared or not lift your two pointy hip bones up away from your right thigh, and lift your lower ribs up from the rim of your pelvic bowl, to find length through the spine.
How to do warrior I pose
The above sequence combines lots of calf stretches with hip flexor stretches to prepare you for warrior I. It also incorporates two standing poses to strengthen the ankle and bring some stability to the joint.
When you are in warrior II pay particular attention to the back leg and the action of the glute muscle. Spend some extra time in warrior I and notice what your optimal alignment is for the bone structure of your hips.
Tips for mastering warrior I
Read through the tips below and give warrior I some extra time and exploration:
- From Adho Mukha Svanasana, ground your left foot at a 45 degree angle
- Inhale, step your right foot to just inside of your right hand. Check that your feet or tracking behind their hip joints to allow the left hip to draw forward, exhale here
- Inhale. Place your hands on your right knee to help you come up. Alternatively draw your navel towards your spine and reach your arms forward to come up
- Reach your arms up high, arms shoulder width apart or palms together
- Keep your front knee bent and stack your front knee over your front ankle
- Press down into your left foot to draw the left hip forward. Press into your right foot to draw right hip back
- Scissors your legs together and roll your right thigh in slightly. Gaze forward or to your fingertips
- Press into the big toe mound to find the inner arch of your back leg.
- Press down into your left heel to help lengthen out the calf muscle.
- Place a block under the heel of your back foot if you find it hard to reach the ground.
- Keep a micro bend in the back knee if you are inclined to hyperextend through the knee joint.
Ruth Delahunty is a 200hr Yoga Alliance certified teacher and founder of Yogaru.ie, a yoga lifestyle website that promotes a yoga way of living both on and off the mat. For more information visit yogaru.ie.