Virabhadrasana Three (Warrior Three) is just one of those poses that has it all. Balance, endurance, challenge, length, and grace. It teaches us to be strong, steady, focused and humble. We have to reach both in front of us and behind us with even effort to find balance in the middle. In this way, it teaches us that though we much engage both the past and the future to get the most from ourselves and the present shape we’re in, we must stay right where we are to find the sweetness of all three moments of history. I think the lessons and gifts in this pose are limitless. The more you explore these aspects of your pose, the more you discover yourself and start to settle your drishti (gaze) on this very moment. How cool is that?
Just a few tips that should help you get the most out of your Warrior 3.
Don’t over think it. The tips below are designed to help you settle into the posture more comfortably and find it for YOU. The most perfect W3 you’re going to get is the one in which you explore ease in the face of the challenge it presents.. The biggest goal isn’t to make it “perfect”, it’s to actually settle in. Allow yourself to explore, to fall over, to grab the wall, and to try again with a big ole smile on your face!
Getting there: Now there are many ways to get into the posture. Whether you’re coming from a high lunge, utkatasana, or tadasana, I invite you to spread the toes of the standing foot wide and replant them as if you were holding on to the earth with your feet. I call this monkey foot. Press evenly through all 4 corners of the foot (pinky toe mound, big toe mound, both corners of the heel) and the big toe. Just get your foundation firm.
When your foot feels like it will support you, put a slight bend in the standing knee (versus locking it) as you reach your other leg up and back. The goal is to have one long line from the fingertips to the heel.
To Do This:
Lift the leg using the GLUTES and try to direct both the leg and heart parallel to the earth.
Try to square the hips – directing the hips points to the ground evenly.
Direct the knee cap to face the earth.
Direct the toes to face the earth and the heel to the sky of the lifted foot by flexing it strongly.
Draw the arms over head pointing through the fingers. Try to bring the upper arms right in line with your ears. Don’t drop your head to meet your arms. If your arms just won’t do it, bring the palms together in front of the heart and work the leg.
Draw your shoulder blades down from you ears (helps the pose feel less stressful).
Take your gaze straight down so the back of the neck is long.
Relax the face and the tongue.
When coming out of the posture, engage the core and the glutes like the beast you are and try to set the leg down gently and silently (versus collapsing with a thud. If you do – it’s ok. Giggle about it.)
Complete on both sides!
More important than how the pose looks is how it feels. It should be challenging, fierce and firey, but never painful. What’s more, it should be an opportunity to explore the future you reach for, the past you’re connected to, and the person you are in the present moment. Feel humbled, not frustrated, when you fall (not if, we all fall). Feel joyful, not pissed, as you explore. And above all, feel strong and connected. This pose is magic and you are the magician.