Finding Joy in Movement

Virabhadrasana 1/ Warrior 1

Virabhadrasana 1 is a standing pose that is part of the Surya Namaskara B series. Often, it is entered into from downward dog, but we will describe it here taken on its own.

Facing the side of the mat in Tadasana, jump the feet out about 3-4 feet. The distance here will vary greatly depending upon how open the hip flexors are. Beginners should start with a narrower stance, while more flexible students can generally take a wider stance. I like to place my hands on the hips to bring my attention to the pelvis in the pose, though you can raise them overhead here if you like. Turn the left toes out 90 degress, the right toes in 45 degrees, and pivot the hips to face the front of the mat. Check to make sure that the right heel is in line with or slightly outside of the line of the left foot.

Keeping the thighs squeezing lightly in toward the center line, bend the left leg until the shin is perpendicular to the floor. The left knee should track directly in line with the foot. If the knee buckles in or out even a little, this can place strain on the ligaments of the inner or outer knee. Additionally, bringing the knee forward of the heel can place strain on the posterior ligament of the knee so keep it directly over or even a tiny bit back of the heel. Eventually, you want the hips to square to the front of the mat and the left thigh parallel to the floor, though this is something to work towards and not necessarily a requirement. If you find the hips are still quite open to the side however, you can step the feet closer together and bring the back foot further outside the line of the front foot. This not only has the advantage of helping the hips square to the front, but also provides a more stable base to balance from. Press through the outside of the right foot and ground through the right heel. Engage the right thigh to stabilize the knee joint and check to make sure the knee and foot are pointing in the same direction.

Keeping the legs strong and active, lift the torso into a slight backbend and reach the arms overhead with the palms either facing each other or pressed together. Keep the abdominals engaged as you find your backbend to keep the lower ribs in. Broaden the shoulder blades across the back and draw them down away from the head. Tuck the tailbone to increase the stretch on the back thigh and lengthen the lower back. As you find the pose, tune in to the energy moving in two direction – downward as the hips sink to the mat, and upwards as the spine and gaze lift up toward the ceiling.

To come out, press through the back foot as you straighten the front leg, bring the hands back to the hips, and pivot both the feet and the pelvis back to the side of the mat. Repeat on the second side, staying for as long as you held the first.

If you have any questions, please leave a comment below. I’d love to hear from you or see you at one of my classes!

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