Build up resilience and open up your hips with Warrior II

From one of my least it became one of my favourite standing poses! Back to the time I had my right ACL reconstructed this was a key pose to help me to get back to full recovery.  Virabhadrasana II, or Warrior 2, is considered a beginner’s pose but don’t be fooled, it’s more complex than you would think and to make the most out of its benefits, I would advise you to follow some alignment queues described below.

But before we start, one may ask, what does Warrior 2 have to offer? It’s many benefits include an intense hip stretch (especially efficient on stretching the thigh adductor muscles), it builds up leg strength and stamina, promotes good posture and even works grounding and concentration skills.

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Getting into the pose

1. Start by standing in Tadasana (or Mountain Pose). Keep your hands on your hips, then step your right foot forward. You want your feet to be about 4/4.5 ft apart so you might have to walk your right foot a little bit further!

2. Turn your right foot to the left, with toes slightly in, around 170º degrees. Have your right heel in line with the arch (middle) of your left foot.

3. Bend your right knee, so it is directly above your right ankle and your thigh parallel with the floor. Press the outer edge of your left foot down and keep the left leg straight. Try to distribute the weight evenly between both legs.

4. Extend both your arms out to the sides, lengthening through your fingers. Keep your shoulders away from the ears and toward each other. Gaze towards your right hand. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds. Repeat on the other side.

Things to watch out for

1. Keeping the thigh parallel to the floor can be pretty hard if you are tight in the hips. You can ease this up by shortening your stance (always keeping the knee-ankle alignment).

2. Torso keeps going forwards towards the bent leg side. Move your torso back keeping the shoulders above the hips.

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3. Shoulders lifting, tensing the neck. If this occurs, you can roll your palms to face up, this way your shoulders will naturally roll down. Keep the shoulders in this position and roll your palms to face the floor again.

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4. Because of the tightness on the groin the front knee tends to draw inwards. Point your knee towards the three little toes of your front foot. As you do this your butt may stick out to compensate the tightness. Try to find a happy medium and keep working on tucking the tailbone in as your draw your knee out.

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5. Sometime it can be useful placing a chair under the front thigh to ease the weight off the legs, giving you a bit of breathing space to work on your alignment and deepening the groin stretch.

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Dynamic Variation

Inhale, as you straighten both legs, lifting your arms up. Exhale, as you go back to Warrior 2.  Do that about 3/5 times on each side. This makes up a cool warming up exercise. 😉

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