Warrior 1

Warrior 1 pose or virabhadrasana 1 is a common pose in a standing series in hatha yoga. It makes a great transition pose from various standing postures including warrior 2 and triangle though the foot alignment is slightly different.

Remember that as you attempt the pose the shorter the stance, the closer the feet are to each other the easier it will be. You can always scoot the 90 degree foot out further if you need more depth. Align the hips so your guns face forward and lift the spine. A 90 degree knee gives you the workhorse in your quadriceps and builds strength in your lower body. Pull the belly in and lift your spine. Long slow breathing through the nose while retracting the neck will complete the alignment through your spine and relish the sense of space you create.

Lift your arms in any position you like but slowly work them up above you for extra lift. No slouching. Use your breathing to massage your body into position.

Try going through several poses in sequence including this one. Triangle and warrior 2 are good options.

Triangle pose

Trikonasana or triangle pose is an extremely common standing posture in hatha yoga. Its simplicity allows a beginner to do the pose while true mastery may take years. I’m not even close and I’ve been working at it for 8 years. This pose is an easy transition from warrior 2 though the feet are often closer together in triangle. This pose works deeply into the hamstrings and hips and often new students feel sore in these areas the day after class.

Go slow, feel your body flow into the pose. Work on the alignment and be less concerned with depth. It’s not about doing the pose perfectly, it’s about feeling your way through the pose and breathing into a new space. Triangle may be one of those friends for life poses you’ll return to but it always has something to teach you. If necessary align yourself from the ground up. Start at the feet, how do they feel? Can you be more grounded? Can you feel more anchored to the floor then lift out from that? Work your way up the body, like running yourself through a scan. Feel the pose, embrace it. Breathe and love the space you create.

The twist in the pose comes after you’ve lengthened your spine. Students slouch in this pose frequently and I find the hand reaching out to the mirror to be the easiest way to prevent this from happening. Once you’ve felt it several times it’s easier to not make that mistake but when you start really reach out to create a long spine before you concern yourself with twisting. When you do twist, twist from the lower spine first then spiral out to the up stretched hand.

If you decide to turn your head make sure you’re balanced and grounded. It’s not uncommon to fall out once you turn the head so ground into your feet first. Don’t rush to turn the head, go slow, feel the twist through the neck. Tuck your chin and when you look up your chin will be closer to your shoulder. This chin tuck is safer for your cervical spine and if you feel strain take note, you’re probably not tucking the chin.

Try the transition from warrior 2 into triangle. Find a foot spacing that allows you to leave the feet where they are and go between both poses to feel the difference. Most of all, breathe. The breath will take you more deeply into the pose. If you feel strain back off, breathe deeply and let it slowly work its magic.

1/2 downward dog part 2

More variations on downward facing dog pose using a wall. The change of gravity and position helps open the spine and allows one to build strength in the arms and hands while working on stretching through the upper spine and finally into the neck. Play with these they’re great fun.

I highly recommend these if you work in an office, have slouched upper back posture or upper back/neck pain. Do it several times a day for 5-10 minutes for a week. It’s one thing to read about the benefits of a pose. It’s another to have your body integrate the pose into your nervous system. Breathe.

1/2 Downward dog part 1

Downward facing dog pose is difficult for beginners. Hamstrings are tight, the low back isn’t aligned well and the backs of the legs are tense enough to prevent much movement of the heels towards the floor. This version takes the lower body out of the equation.

Working on the arms, upper back and cervical spine alone allows for more precise alignment and exploration without worry. The weight is lessened due to our positioning in gravity and nuances are noticed while being in the pose longer than you can hold the traditional pose. Try it out.