Now for the warriors:
You have a couple of options to come into Balancing Warrior: stepping back or stepping forward. To step back, begin at the top of your mat in mountain pose. Begin your “sun salutation” flow or any variation (Utkatasana, fold, come into flat back OR swan dive, fold, flat back). Once in flat back, exhale your right leg back into a lunge, keeping you heel off the mat. On your next exhale, swing your arms to your sides, palms down (airplane arms). Inhale swing your arms down, forward and up. Allow your arm movement to hinge your torso upright. To step forward, come into your downward dog. On an inhale lift your right leg off the mat and kick it up behind you. On an exhale pull it through, placing it firmly on the mat between your palms and establishing your lunge. Follow the same steps as above. Things to keep in mind in Balancing Warrior:
- Keep the weight in both legs even, engage the muscles equally
- Your legs are the strength of this pose so establish a solid foundation
- Straighten the right leg by reaching your right heel to the back of the mat
- Square the hips to the top of you mat; usually it helps to pull your left hip back as you pull your right hip forward
- Keep your shoulders over top of your hips (don’t lean forward or bend backward)
- Relax your shoulders away from your ears, keeping the arms straight and strong
- Bring energy into your fingertips
- Gaze straight ahead and breathe (sink deeper into pose on exhales)
Warrior I consists of the same principles as Balancing Warrior except that your back heel is down on the mat. This means that your hips have to work harder to be square toward the top of your mat. In this Warrior pose, be careful not to allow your back leg to become lazy and bent slightly. I always have to check in and make sure because even though I think my back leg is straight, it often tricks me here. *Tip for straightening your back leg in Warriors with your heel on the mat, focus on pressing the outside part of your foot firmly into the mat, engaging all the muscles up the leg.
Start in Balancing Warrior or Warrior I, sweep the arms open and out to your sides into Warrior II. You maintain the same principles in your lower body that you established in Warrior I. Your gaze is just beyond your fingertips. Open your chest, open your heart, by reaching your fingertips in opposite directions and relaxing your shoulders down. Keep your arms strong and straight; maintain the strength in your legs.
Begin in Warrior II and slide your back arm to the back of your straight leg. As you slide your arm down your leg, bring your gaze and other arm straight up to the sky. Reach up from your core, all the way through your fingertips. Feel a stretch in your side body. Remember to continue to bend into your front leg; it has a tendency to become lazy and loose.
As with all other warrior poses, Warrior III strengthens the legs, shoulders, core and back, as well as improving balance. Warrior III requires patience and concentration, as there is a lot going on within the body to maintain this pose. Begin from Balancing Warrior, bring your palms together and interlace your fingers. (Release your index finger, creating “Charlies’s Angels” pose). Then, mindfully:
- Bring your weight forward into your front foot as you gently lift up your back leg.
- Hinge at the waist, bringing your torso forward until it is parallel to the floor. (If you cannot keep your legs or arms straight, only hinge to the point where you can keep the integrity of the pose)
- Think of your arms, core, and back leg as one solid line. When you bring your arms toward the ground, the back leg must lift to the sky.
- Keep both legs straight and the back flat.
- Both hips pointing toward the ground, as you work to bring the back leg in line with your body
- Reach through your fingertips and your raised leg, feeling length throughout your body.
- The strength is always in the standing leg, so keep it grounded, straight, and strong.
There will be another post about the benefits of these warrior poses, but play around with them on your own and see if you can figure out the benefits yourself! Remember, their power is in the strength and balance you must engage in each pose.