Such a Poser: Warrior 1

Warrior I

Virabhadrasana I

Virabhadra is the name of a powerful mythological warrior. There are three main variations of Warrior. It may seem strange to name a yoga pose after a warrior; after all, aren’t yogis known for their non-violent ways and promoting peace and unity? But remember that one of the most revered of all the yoga texts, the Bhagavad-Gita, is the dialog between two famous and feared warriors, Krishna and Arjuna, set on a battlefield between two great armies spoiling for a fight. What’s really being commemorated in this pose’s name and held up as an ideal for all practitioners, is the “spiritual warrior,” who bravely does battle with the universal enemy, self-ignorance (avidya), the ultimate source of all our suffering.

How to do Warrior 1:

  • From Downward Facing Dog
  • Pivot on the ball of the left foot and drop the left heel on to the floor with the toes turned out about 45 degrees from the heel
  • Bring the right foot forward next to the right hand
  • Bend the right knee directly over the right ankle, so that your thigh is parallel to the floor
  • Draw the right hip back and the left hip forward, so that the hips are squared to the front
  • Bring the arms out to the side and up
  • Bring your palms to touch and gaze up toward the thumbs, lift the chest
  • Slide the shoulder blades down the back
  • Stretch your tailbone towards the floor while at the same time lifting your torso
  • As you exhale, sink your hips. As you inhale, lift the chest a little higher.
  • Repeat on the left side
  • Beginners: Step the left foot out toward the left side of the mat a bit to allow more room for the hips to square. Place your hands on your hip bones, so you can feel whether they are squared forward. Draw the right hip back and the left hip forward. When you bring your arms up, keep them shoulder distance apart if that is more comfortable
  • Advanced: Make sure the right knee stays directly over the right ankle. Line up the right heel with the center of the left arch. Ground down the outer edge of the left foot while lifting the inner arch of that foot. Really engage the quadriceps. Hold the pose for 5 breaths (inhale & exhale through nose =1 breath)


Benefits of Warrior 1:

  • Strengthens the legs
  • Opens the chest and shoulders
  • Strengthens the shoulders and arms and the muscles of the back
  • Strengthens and stretches the thighs, calves and ankles



  • 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.


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