Alignment Tips: Warrior 1 (Virabhadrasana I)

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Warrior 1, or Virabhadrasana 1 in Sanskrit, is a standing yoga pose that helps build focus, power, and stability. It is a foundational pose that stretches the front side of the body and is often incorporated into sun salutations or standing sequences. Warrior 1 is also great for building strength in the legs, core, and back while simultaneously opening the hip flexors.

As well-known as Warrior 1 is, it can actually be a very challenging posture for many practitioners. It requires a tremendous amount of strength and flexibility to get your back foot into proper position, while also maintaining the notion of the hips pressing forward. Please note, it’s anatomically impossible for your hips to fully “square” forward as you may have heard instructors cue; however, you do want to encourage your back hip to press forward as your front hip draws back which will help improve your alignment in Warrior 1.  

What are the benefits of Warrior 1 pose?

There are numerous benefits of making this foundational posture part of your regular practice. Most notably, Warrior 1 helps:

  • Stretch the chest, shoulders, neck, abdomen, and hip flexor muscles
  • Strengthen the shoulders, arms, legs, and back muscles 
  • Strengthen and stretch the thighs, calves, and Achilles tendon
  • Improve core strength and balance
  • Develop concentration and grounding

How to hold this pose

Proper alignment is key as you start to incorporate Warrior 1 into your yoga practice. Let’s address how to get into the posture, as well as some simple modifications you can incorporate to make Warrior 1 more accessible. 

Step 1

Begin by standing at the back of your mat. Step your right foot forward and, with toes pointing to the top of the mat, bend your knee into a lunge. Keep your left leg straight behind you and turn your left heel in at approximately 45 degrees. Press the outer edge of your left foot into the mat. Raise your arms straight above your head, keeping your shoulders pressed down. Gently engage your core to keep your front ribs from splaying open.

Step 2

Encourage your right hip crease to drawback as you gently press your left hip forward. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and downward, and lift your chin to gaze at your hands overhead. Hold your pose for 3 to 5 breaths and then repeat on the left side.

Continue to Practice Warrior 1

Initially, Warrior 1 can feel quite challenging, especially if you have tight hips. You are not alone if this posture feels difficult — it is simply a function of the legs performing two very different actions in an effort to steer the pelvis into alignment. A simple modification is to transition into Crescent Lunge by turning the back foot to face forward and lifting your back heel off the floor. You can also play with widening your stance so your feet are on separate “train tracks” while in Warrior 1 to allow for better balance and more mobility in your hips.

Curious to learn more? Join us on the mat and let one of our skilled yoga instructors help get you into alignment with this posture and more!