Warrior Blast

Warrior Poses, or Virabhadrasana, are the most common strength building poses for the lower body. Warrior I is a forward facing pose, meaning that  your hips face the short end of your mat, while Warrior II is a side facing pose with your hips open to the long end.

What do you think of when you think of a warrior? In Warrior I you’ll be facing forward with a very open, even vulnerable, stance. In Warrior II you’ll be open to the side, but focused very intently over your front hand, like an archer. You need not think of war or violence to embody the warrior, only reflect on how strength, stability, focus and openness occur in your life. How do you feel when you think of embodying these qualities all at once?

Things you might want to have handy: Yoga Mat, Block

It is recommended to perform the warm-up first, before starting this routine.


Step 1: Starting Position, Mountain
Duration: 5 breaths the first time, then return on the exhale as you move between Mountain and Upward Hands Pose.
Pose Review: Mountain

At the top of your mat, stand with your feet hip width apart and engage your leg muscles and arm muscles as you press your feet into the earth and draw your shoulder blades together on your back. Draw your pelvic up, which will draw your tailbone down like a plumb line to the ground. Lift your sternum, and draw your chin back so your head is balanced and your neck relaxed. Your gaze and face are soft and your focus is about 4 feet in front of your face.


Step 2: Upward Hands Pose

Duration: Inhale and return to Mountain on the exhale, repeat 5 times

On your next inhalation, turn your palms up and reach your arms out to your side and up overhead, looking up toward your thumbs. Maintain mindfulness of your internal stability as you move your arms up and overhead by keeping your pelvic floor lifted and your belly lifting up and back to your spine.

Exhaling, bring your hands together and down to your heart in Mountain. Continue this breath and slow arm movement 4 more times, gathering sustenance into your heart and warming up your shoulders and your focus and internal stability.


Step 3: Downward Facing Dog

Duration: 5 breaths
Pose Review: Downward Facing Dog

From Mountain, step backward about 5 feet with one foot and place your hands on either side of the front foot. Inhale and lengthen your spine before exhaling and stepping back to Down Dog, lifting your sitting bones back and up toward the top of the wall behind you. For the first Down Dog of the day, keep your knees gently bent and feel the backs of your open and release. Press your hips back strongly and press your arms isometrically towards one another.

Step 4: High Lunge
Duration: 5 breaths
Pose Review: High Lunge

On your last inhalation in Down Dog, look forward and bend both knees. Exhale and step your left foot forward, keeping the toes of your right foot curled under and your heel in the air.  Keeping your left knee bent and over your ankle, moving toward the little toe side of your foot, draw your pelvic floor and belly in so strongly and slowly that you feel your spine wave up until your rib cage is centered over your hips. Hands can be on your hips or overhead, and shoulder blades together on your back.


Step 5: Warrior 1
Duration: 5 breaths
Pose Review: Warrior 1

As you exhale for the last time in High Lunge, lower your right heel to the ground, turning your right foot out about 45 degrees. Your hips will open slightly, and you’ll feel a different stretch in your right leg. Bring your attention back to your belly and notice the tendency to allow your low back to curve. Intentionally draw your core in and up to lift your spine and support your back. Reach your hands to the sky and feel the embodied courage of your warrior.


Step 6-8:

Repeat Steps three through five on the other side, coming into Down Dog by sweeping your hands down to the mat on either side of your foot and stepping your left foot back next to your right, about hip width apart.

    
Step 9: Warrior 2

Duration: 5 breaths
Pose Review: Warrior 2

Step forward to Mountain, and allow your breath to normalize. Close your eyes and observe the sensations in your body and the activity of your mind.

Exhaling, step your right foot back about 5 feet and turned in about 45 degrees, bending your left knee. Open your arms over your legs and your hips to the long edge of your mat. Your gaze is over the first two fingers of your left hand.

Lift your inner right thigh and press into all four corners of both feet. Look down and assure that your left knee is over your ankle and tracking forward over your middle toe. Imagine the focus of the archer and the tension of the bow as you reach out in both directions from the stability of your center.


Step 10: Extended Side Angle Pose
Duration: 5 breaths
Pose Review: Extended Side Angle Pose

On the final exhalation in Warrior II, reach your left arm forward and stretch your body so you form a long line from your right outer foot up your side. Bring your left elbow to your knee, even as you continue to support your body through the strength of your core, not relying on your arm. Trace the horizon in front of you with your right fingertips until you bring your right arm along your right ear. You may look ahead or up at your right thumb.


Step 11: Triangle
Duration: 5 breaths
Pose Review: Triangle Pose

Inhale from Side Angle into Warrior II and straighten your left leg as you bring your hands to your hips. Tilt your pelvis down on the left side and up on the right, like a teapot, keeping your spine in alignment so that your body tilts with your pelvis. Instead of allowing your body to curve over, use your core muscles to lift your ribcage equally up off your pelvis, maintaining the integrity of your spine without curving. When you’ve reached your point of maximum extension, open your left arm down, perhaps supporting it with a block, and your right arm up. You may gaze ahead or up at your right thumb

    
Step 12: Standing Straddle Forward Bend Pose
Duration: 5 breaths
Pose Review: Standing Straddle Forward Bend Pose

Inhale and bend your left knee as you come back upright with your hands on your hips. Turn all 10 toes in, just a little pigeon toed. Lift your kneecaps and reach your heart forward and down, pivoting from your pelvis into a forward bend. Continue engaging your core so that your low back doesn’t round.


Step 13-16:
Repeat steps 9-12 on the other side by coming up out of Forward Bend and turning your feet to your right, the opposite end of your mat for the other side.

 

Perform the relaxation sequence to complete this routine.


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