It’s one of the common yoga poses, but do you give it the time it needs? Here’s how to master warrior II
How often in your practice do you stay in warrior? It’s a common pose, but one of the most beneficial hip openers in your asana. Here’s how to master warrior II
Hip openers are one of the most requested poses in classes. They release tension physically and mentally and give you the added bonus of freedom of movement in the hip joint after your practice. When you consider a hip opening pose, which asana springs to mind? Most likely poses like pigeon or lizard. In reality, most yoga poses have an element of hip opening – movement of the hip in any direction opens the hip joint. Warrior II may not be the first pose that springs to mind but it deeply opens the hips in external rotation and stretches both inner groins. It also establishes the external hip rotation arrangement in the front leg for further asana such as parsvakonasana, trikonasana and ardha chandrasana.
You might find flowing through Warrior II has become second nature to you, but have you paused long enough to consider its many benefit?. It strengthens and stretches the legs and ankles. And is also a great pose to practice if you’re a runner or play sport that requires plenty of ankle stability. It is also very energising, increases stamina and circulation, relieves backache, sciatica and is suitable to practice all the way through pregnancy.
Prepping for Warrior II
The sequence above starts with supine hip opening and supta padangusthasana, which will warm up and lengthen the hamstrings and allow you to drop the hips down for Warrior II. After you have pressed the leg up straight, rotate the leg out to the side from the hip joint. There is also a kneeling version of Warrior II to help you find the external rotation in the front hip. It will help you prep for peak pose. You will come into warrior II three times. On the first round you will flow with the breath. On the second and third round you will pause and feel for an opening in the hips.
How to do warrior II
The above sequence builds a blueprint for finding your best warrior II. Read through the step by step guide which will bring you into warrior II. Check the top tips section for some additional alignments cues to explore once you arrive at your pose:
- From adho mukha svanasana, ground your left foot at a 45 degree angle. Inhale, step your right foot between your hands. Check for front heel to back arch alignment, exhale here.
- Inhale, press into your feet to come up. Open your hips to the side of the mat with your front knee bent. The left hip naturally sits forward of your right hip. Reach your arms out to shoulder height, palms facing down.
- Stack your front knee over your front ankle, working towards your front thigh being parallel to the ground.
- Lift your inner thighs. Roll your outer left thigh down, hug your right hip in. Gaze to your right fingertips.
Top tips for warrior II
- With your hips facing the side of the mat your left hip will naturally sits slightly forward of your right hip
- Squeeze your right outer hip muscles and press lightly into you big toe mound to track your knee over your ankle and open the groin out to the side of the mat
- Press into your front heel and pull it back towards you to feel the quads and hamstrings wake up
- As your groin starts to open see can you find more space to drop your hips down, making sure to adjust your front foot to keep the knee tracking
- Draw your navel in towards your spine and lengthen up through the tip of the crown, shoulders directly over the pelvis
- With equal weight between front and back foot, press into your back heel to feel the arches of the foot lift
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.