Pronounced: VEER-uh-bhah- DRAH-suh-nuh
Warrior Pose, First Variation
Have you ever wondered, “If yoga is meant to help me be more peaceful, what’s with all the ‘warrior’ poses?”
Well, there are actually many reasons, but for now, let’s go back in time to one of the great tales of yoga. The Bhagavad Gita tells the story of a warrior named Arjuna, poised on the brink of war, but not wanting to fight. His mentor, Krishna, tells him that he can’t shy away from his dharma, his duty; he must summon the courage and faith to fight the battle for justice.
Rather than advocating violence, however, this story is a metaphor. Life can feel like a battlefield, and at times, we all we want to run from it. Still, we must show up for work, support our families, and contribute to our communities, all while taking care of our own health. No one else can fight these battles for us, it’s a responsibility we have to own.
The moral of this story is that yoga and meditation aren’t meant to take you away from all of the responsibilities of your life—they are meant to help you navigate them. Having the courage to fight our internal battles and do our inner work helps us win the war over the internal demons of self-doubt, fear, and anxiety, so we can show up as our bravest, best selves.
It’s inspiring to know that the Bhagavad Gita was used as a foundation for the work of Gandhi, who we all know as a world leader in the concept of “just war,” or “fighting for equality” through nonviolence. Years later, Gandhi inspired Martin Luther King, Jr., who used this philosophy to lead the civil rights movement. Spirituality can’t live in a vacuum. How we show up for ourselves—how we show up for each other—IS our yoga. So the next time you find yourself in Warrior Pose, ask yourself, “What in my life is worth fighting for?”
How to practice Warrior I
- Start at the front of your mat in Tadasana (Mountain Pose), with your hands on your hips for stability.
- Keep your hips squared to the front as much as possible as you step your left foot back 3-5 feet and between 3-12 inches left of the centerline. The distance will depend on your flexibility and comfort level.
- Your left foot can turn out as much as 90 degrees, but consider moving it toward 45 degrees as your practice progresses. Firm into the outer edge of your left foot as you firm your left thigh and rotate towards the front of the mat as much as feels comfortable.
- Tracking your front knee straight by pressing down in between your 2nd and 3rd toe, bend your leg toward a 90-degree angle, never moving your front knee past your front ankle.
- Lift your lower belly in and up as you hug your floating ribs in, squaring your torso to the front.
- Extend both arms up overhead, directing your fingertips toward the ceiling. Keep your hands shoulder-width apart or press your palms together. Gaze forward or up at your fingertips.
- Hold for 5-10 breaths. Release gently. Repeat on side 2.
Modifications and variations
There are several variations of Warrior Pose that involve different rotations of the arms and legs. Modifications can be made by shortening the stance of the legs, limiting the bend of the front knee, and keeping the hands on the hips. If there is discomfort in the back ankle, consider rotating onto the ball of the back foot, creating what some call a version of Crescent Pose.
If you have any ankle, knee, hip, or balance issues, practice with caution.
If you like Warrior 1 or Elena Brower, we suggest:
Spiritual Warrior with Giselle Mari
Vinyasa Flow – 60 min
Resting Warrior with Chelsey Korus
Hatha – 30 min