Guest Post by Jessica Turner, 200 RYT
Warrior I Pose
Let’s look close at Warrior I pose! We take Warrior I often during our strength and endurance sequences of class not only because this pose strengthens the legs, but also because it increases stamina. Along with several other standing poses, it is also therapeutic for sciatica pain. Remember to breathe deeply!
To find your Warrior I Pose, start with your feet 3 ½ to 4 feet apart, turning the back foot out to a ~45 degree angle. The position of your feet are slightly different than Warrior II pose because the hips are trying to square to the front rather than open. It may even mean that you need to step the back foot in an inch or two in order to wrap the back hip forward! The full expression of this pose has the heels in a straight line from each other, however, it is incredibly more challenging to wrap the back hip forward with the heels in a line. (I actually do not know anyone, including my teachers, that can fully square their hips with the heels in a line!!!). Instead try scooting the back foot out 6-8 inches and feel how much more movement you can achieve when you try to press the hip forward. Another tip is to think about a tug of war between that back hip (left shown) and the outside pinky toe edge of the back foot. That hip is wrapping forward, but the outside edge of the foot is pressing away.
Once you have the hips as square as possible (this will improve over time with practice) and the back leg straight, then you lunge deeper, reach the arms straight up, look up, and take deep breaths. Feel the chest and heart lifting, but relax the shoulders and slide the shoulder blades down your back!
Fun Tip: If you are new to yoga, or struggle with squaring your hips in this pose (or perhaps you aren’t quite sure what I’m talking about!!), try out this tip! Take a block, turn it to its flattest position, and place the log edge underneath your front knee. The other side will press against a wall (yes, you are facing the wall, lunging into it!!). As you lunge and press into the block, you can adjust the back foot and really feel movement in the back hip. You can place your fingertips on the wall and drive that back hip forward. This gives you a better idea of what the hips should feel like in this pose without the block and without the wall the next time you practice!
Additional benefits of this pose:
- Stretches the chest and lungs, shoulders and neck, belly, groins (psoas)
- Strengthens the shoulders and arms, and the muscles of the back
- Strengthens and stretches the thighs, calves, and ankles
- High blood pressure
- Heart problems
- Students with shoulder problems should keep their raised arms parallel (or slightly wider than parallel) to each other.
- Students with neck problems should keep their head in a neutral position and not look up at the hands.
Please feel free to ask any questions you may have.
Light on Yoga by B.K.S Iyengar