Warrior poses are some of the most recognizable yoga poses. From beginner to advanced level yoga classes, there is a good chance you will see some warrior pose variations in each class. In this article, we will take a look at 6 warrior pose variations and how to practice and modify them.
6 Warrior Pose Variations: Virabhadrasana
Warrior I is often practiced as a part of Sun Salutation B at the beginning of a yoga class or as a part of a standing sequence.
In Warrior I, the front foot is facing forward, the back foot is facing slightly outwards at around 45 degree angle. The front knee is bent so it’s positioned over the ankle, the back leg is straight, and the hips are facing forward to the short side of the mat.
Depending on your hip flexibility, your heels can be in one line or wider apart, as if you are standing on two rails. For many people, especially beginners, the variation with the heels in one line often feels unstable, so I encourage you to keep your feet as wide as it feels good for your body.
Another way to modify is to lift the back heel and do High Lunge instead of Warrior I. I like this modification especially at the beginning of the class to warm up the body and prepare for a deeper stretch later in Warrior I.
As for the upper body, the most common variation is to raise arms above the head with palms facing towards each other. If the shoulders allow, bring the palms together. Gaze forward to begin, and then if you don’t have any neck issues, look up to your palms. Gazing up adds an additional challenge to the balance in this pose.
2. Warrior II (Virabhadrasana II)
For Warrior II, place heels in one line, bend front knee over the ankle and extended the arms parallel to the floor with palms facing down. Make sure the front knee is facing forward(it has a tendency to fall inwards). Hips are facing the long side of the mat. Relax the shoulders away from the ears and gaze over the front hand.
3. Warrior III (Virabhadrasana III)
Warrior III is a one-leg balancing posture: the standing leg is straight, arms, upper body, and another leg parallel to the floor.
You can play with arm variations here: hands together in front of the chest, arms to the side(“airplane arms”), hands on the hips etc.
To help with the balance, you can also place hands down on two blocks or use a chair or wall for support. Straightening the front leg can be hard at first, so keep it slightly bent if needed.
4. Humble Warrior (Baddha Virabhadrasana)
In Humble Warrior, the legs are in the same position as in Warrior I. Interlace the fingers behind the back and fold forward, bringing shoulder to the inside of the front knee and reaching arms up to the ceiling.
In addition to leg strength and hip flexibility, this pose requires a lot of shoulder flexibility to clasp hands behind the back. If this is too hard, you can always use a yoga strap and hold it with your hands behind the back. Then bend forward as much as you need to feel the stretch in the shoulders and hips.
5. Reverse Warrior (Viparita Virabhadrasana)
In Reverse Warrior, legs are in Warrior II position with hips facing to the long side of the mat. Reach the front arm up and bend backward, sliding the other hand down along the leg.
6. Warrior with Chair
Warrior II and Reverse Warrior are two yoga poses that translate well into chair yoga. These modifications are great for people with limited mobility/strength or when you want to do yoga at work.
What is your favourite warrior pose?