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Virabhadrasana II or Warrior II

Benefits, Contraindications, Tips and How to Do

virabhadrasana ii
English Name(s)
Warrior II Pose
Sanskrit
वीरभद्रासन / Vīrabhadrāsana
Pronunciation
veer-bha-dra-aa-sah-nah II
Meaning
Virabhadra: A powerful warrior created by Lord Shiva.
Asana: Pose

Virabhadrasana II at a Glance

Virabhadrasana II (Warrior II Pose) is a popular asana representing the warrior sighting his enemy and preparing for battle. This pose is named after the mythological warrior Virabhadra. The power of the pose can be felt if a person has good flexibility and stability. The pose is named after a fierce warrior named Virbhadra, originating from Hindu mythology.

Benefits:

  • Strengthens and tones the legs, especially the quadriceps, hamstring and calf muscles.
  • Stretches the hips, groin and inner thigh.
  • Increases strength and stamina.
  • Enhances focus and concentration.
  • Provides a sense of grounding and stability.

Who can do it?

Virabhadrasana II can be particularly beneficial for people who want to strengthen their lower body and improve posture.

Who should not do it?

People with knee injuries or hip or shoulder injuries should approach this pose with some modification. People with high blood pressure should avoid tensing their arms or holding the pose for a long time.

Introduction

Virabhadrasana II, or Warrior II Pose, is a foundational standing yoga pose that involves strength, stability, and focus. The pose is considered difficult as the body alignment must be accurate. The pose comes from the creation of the fiercest warrior by Lord Shiva and so the name is Virbhadra or warrior pose.

Chakra

Warrior II opens many chakras in the body. The pose stimulates the Sacral chakra (Svadishthana chakra). Practicing this pose connects a person to his truest vibration, which also exists in energy centres. It also stimulates the Muladhara chakra( root) chakra. Energizing this chakra helps to ground the person, thus providing the inner stability necessary to face life’s challenges.

Philosophy

  • Inner Strength: The pose symbolizes the inner strength and determination to face life’s challenges gracefully.
  • Presence and Focus: Virabhadrasana II encourages the person to be fully present in the moment. The gaze is either directed forward or a little up, which reminds us to be completely present in the present moment.
  • Balance of Opposites: This balance in the pose reflects the yogic philosophy of finding harmony between opposing forces and qualities.
  • Warrior Within: Warrior II motivates people to access their inner warrior, thus giving them strength to overcome obstacles on life’s journey.

How to Do Virabhadrasana II?
Follow the Step by Step Procedure

  1. Start by standing at the top of your mat in tadasana with your feet together.
  2. Press your feet firmly, inhale, and raise your arms parallel to the floor, keeping your shoulders bent down and relaxed.
  3. Exhale and bend your knees, keeping your knees over your ankle. Adjust the pose to find good stability.
  4. Roll the top of your thigh towards the floor on the right and press down through your big toe to find balance.
  5. Press the top of your left thigh back and ground the outside of your left foot into the floor.
  6. Extend through your collarbones and fingertips. Bring your chin in and gaze at the right. Stay for a few breaths. To exit, press into your feet and straighten your legs as you inhale. Switch sides and repeat.

What are the Benefits of Virabhadrasana II?

  • Strengthens Leg Muscles: Warrior II engages and strengthens the quadriceps, hamstrings, and calf muscles, which can help stabilize and support the knees and hips.
  • Stretches Hips and Groin: The wide stance in this pose stretches the hips and groin, helping in greater flexibility and relieving any tension.
  • Opens Chest and Shoulders: The pose involves an expansion of the chest and shoulders.
  • Improves Posture: The upright and open pose helps in improving posture issues.
  • Enhances Concentration: The focused gaze over the front hand can help improve concentration and mindfulness, which helps relieve stress and anxiety.
  • Boosts Endurance: Holding the pose requires greater endurance.
  • Stimulates Blood Circulation: Various muscles are needed to build the posture to stimulate better blood circulation.

Health Conditions that Might Improve with Virabhadrasana II

  1. Weak Leg Muscles: People with weak leg muscles can practice Warrior II pose to strengthen quads, hamstrings, and calf muscles and provide better support for knees and hips.
  2. Tight Hips and Groin: Individuals with tight hips and groin muscles may practice the pose to open these areas.
  3. Round Shoulders and Poor Posture: The pose opens the chest and shoulders, so it helps in good posture alignment.
  4. Mild Anxiety and Stress: The pose is calming due to the chest opening and deep breathing.

Safety and Precautions

  1. Knee Injuries or Issues: Warrior II involves bending the front knee at a right angle. Practicing this pose could worsen the condition if you have knee injuries, pain, or chronic knee issues. Always consult a good certified yoga instructor.
  2. Hip Injuries or Restrictions: People with hip injuries should approach the pose very gently and slowly. The hip opening could strain or worsen existing issues. Modify the pose.
  3. Shoulder Injuries or Instability: People with shoulder pain should modify the pose.
  4. High Blood Pressure: Holding the arms for a long time and focusing the gaze forward can temporarily increase blood pressure. People with such issues should avoid or modify the pose.
  5. Lower Back Issues: Always engage your core to support the spine and avoid strain on the lower back.
  6. Balance Issues: Warrior II requires a stable foundation and balance. People with balance issues should practice near the wall.
  7. Pregnancy: The core is engaged during the pose formation so that it can be avoided during pregnancy.

Beginners Tips

  • Warm-Up: Start your yoga practice with a gentle warm-up, including your hips, legs, and shoulders. Begin in tadasana and step your feet wide apart, around 3 to 4 feet, depending on your comfort. Turn your right foot outward at a 90-degree angle, and slightly pivot your left foot inwards.
  • Alignment of Feet: Align the heel of your front foot with the arch of your back foot. Ensure your front heel is in line with the arch or center of your back foot.
  • Bend Your Front Knee: As you exhale, bend your right knee directly over your right ankle. Aim for a 90-degree angle at your right knee, ensuring it doesn’t go past your ankle to avoid strain.
  • Torso and Arms: Extend your arms parallel to the ground, with your palms facing down. Keep your shoulders relaxed and away from your ears.
  • Gaze: Fix your gaze over your front fingertips. It can help improve balance and stability.
  • Hips and Shoulders: Square your hips towards the side where your front leg is extended. Keep your shoulder blades in line with your hips.
  • Pelvic Alignment: Engage your core muscles to stabilize your pelvis and support your lower back.
  • Front Thigh and Back Leg: Press into the outer edge of your back foot to engage your back leg’s muscles.
  • Breathing: Maintain a steady, deep breathing throughout the pose. Inhale as you rise, and exhale as you sink into the pose. Modify or use props whenever needed. Hold the pose until it is comfortable.

Preparatory Poses

Counter Pose

Tadasana (mountain pose), Uttanasana (Standing forward bend), Viparita Karani (Legs-Up-the-Wall Pose), Viparita Karani.

Virabhadrasana II and the Breath

  • Begin in tadasana. Inhale and exhale. Bend your right foot knee and keep your feet wide apart. Simultaneously bring your arms to shoulder level and relax.
  • Inhale and exhale. Try to move down with your thigh of the bent knee parallel to the ground.
  • Inhale and exhale. With each exhalation try to relax in the pose. Keep your spine straight and neck and shoulders relaxed. Engage your core.
  • Hold the pose for a few deep breaths. Inhale and exhale and release the pose by exhaling and coming back to the starting position. Repeat the same steps on the other side by switching your legs.

Physical Alignment Principles of Virabhadrasana II

  • When you stretch your hands, see that they are in one line. Keep the alignment of your feet correct. They should not be too wide apart or too close to each other.
  • Keep your bent foot correctly placed with your knee and ankle in a straight line. Involve your stretched foot at the back. Make sure your front heel is in line with your back foot.
  • Keep your chest lifted, shoulder and neck relaxed, and engage your core. Keep your hips square and maintain deep breaths throughout the pose.
  • Try to keep your body firm with a soft gaze in front.

Variation

  • Using a Folding Chair: If you cannot bend the knee properly, folding the chair under your front thigh will support your torso.
  • Against a Wall: A person can use a wall to attain proper balance and control of the body. Place the heel of the back foot near the wall and enter the pose.
  • Using a Block: Using a block under the front foot can provide extra support, thus preventing the back foot from collapsing.
  • Using a Strap: Hold the strap in the form of a hammock and lift the leg over the strap. It requires less strength.

Other Related Poses

Utthita Parsvakonasana (Extended side angle Pose)

Ardha Chandrasana (Half moon Pose)

Viparita Virabhadrasana (Reverse Warrior Pose)

Follow-Up Poses

Trikonasana (Triangle Pose), Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon Pose), Parivrtta Trikonasana (Revolved Triangle Pose), Vrksasana (Tree Pose)

Parsvottanasana (Intense Side Stretch Pose), Virabhadrasana I (Warrior I Pose), Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog Pose), Balasana (Child’s Pose)

Common Mistakes

Do not jump into the pose. Progress gradually with proper breathing. Always engage both legs in the pose. Do not reach too far forward with the upper body; instead, keep your back wrist over your back ankle as you come into the final pose. Ensure your front knee is directly over your ankle and the line of your thigh tracks straight toward the front of your mat in line with the center of your foot. Always try to maximize the range of motion possible for your hips when you keep your hips square.

Deepening the Pose

Align your front heel with the arch of your back foot, or make a slightly wider stance for added stability. Press the inner thigh of your front leg outward, engaging the quadriceps and creating stability in the hip joint. Engage the muscles of your back leg and feel the engagement from the back foot up through the back leg into the hip. Focus on squaring your hips and keep your pelvis neutral to avoid tilting forward or backward. Engage your core muscles, opening your chest. Ensure your lunge doesn’t go beyond your ankle. Use props. Maintain deep and steady breathing.

FAQs

What muscles are used in Virabhadrasana II?

Legs and buttocks(glutes), hip flexors and shins are used for the pose.

Is Virabhadrasana a standing pose?

The pose is challenging and needs balance, strength and concentration.

What is the proper foot alignment for Virabhadrasana II?

The front foot is pointed straight ahead through the top of the mat and the back foot is turned at 90 degrees.

The Bottom Line

Virabhadrasana II involves the entire body and makes us aware of the out-of-sight organs. It also facilitates healing carpel tunnel syndrome, sciatica, osteoporosis and flattened feet. This pose prepares the person to try advanced bends. So, this pose expresses strength and stability and requires a lot of flexibility in the upper body, hips, and strength and stability.

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Meera Watts
Meera Watts is the owner and founder of Siddhi Yoga International. She is known worldwide for her thought leadership in the wellness industry and was recognized as a Top 20 International Yoga Blogger. Her writing on holistic health has appeared in Elephant Journal, CureJoy, FunTimesGuide, OMtimes and other international magazines. She got the Top 100 Entrepreneur of Singapore award in 2022. Meera is a yoga teacher and therapist, though now she focuses primarily on leading Siddhi Yoga International, blogging and spending time with her family in Singapore.

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