WARRIOR I POSE (Virabhadrasana I)

   

Contra-indications: High blood pressure, heart problems, knee injuries.

How to perform: Start in Tadasana. Turn the left foot 45 degrees out and make as big step forward as possible with the right leg. Keeping the hips facing forward, on inhalation raise the arms up over the head and actively reach up keeping the palms facing each other and shoulders relaxed. The hands can be in prayer position or shoulder width apart. Exhale and bend the right knee until it is directly above the ankle. Keep the left leg straight and press the heel and outer edge of the left foot firmly into the ground. Breathe deeply and stay in this position for 6-12 breaths. This is a Warrior pose, so be strong. Inhale and straighten the front leg. Exhale and release the arms down, turn the back heel up and step back into Tadasana. Repeat on the other side.

Do not let the front knee extend beyond the ankle in order to prevent it from over-working – you can either choose to widen the stride or not to bend the knee that much, but the shin must be perpendicular to the floor. Do not let the front knee collapse inwards as to prevent a potentially harmful stretch on the inner knee – firm the front leg's quadriceps to stabilize knee alignment so that the center of the kneecap is in line with the middle toe. Do not lean the torso over the front thigh - keep the spinal column perpendicular to the ground with your shoulders directly over the pelvis.

Do keep the tailbone tucked in and sitting bones stretching down. Lift the breastbone and reach up through the crown of your head to lengthen the torso. Distribute the weight evenly between both feet and extend the back leg without hyperextending (locking) your knee.

What if... I cannot adjust my torso so that my pelvis and shoulders are squarely facing forward? Do not let the back foot turn out more than 45 degrees, firmly press through the back foot, and instead of having the heels in line, position the feet with an increased side-to-side width for stability.

Benefits: Stretches groins (psoas), pelvis and hips. Strengthens thighs, calves, and ankles. Tones the shoulders and arms, and the muscles of the back and abdomen. Stimulates the lungs and heart. Builds endurance. May relieve discomfort of sciatica or lower backache by toning the hip extensors (hamstrings and gluteus maximus) of the back leg.

 

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