Warrior 1 is a standing pose found in yoga. It’s one of the primary asanas (poses) used in yoga flows because of how easy it is to do. It’s part of the warrior series and is the first one as well as being the easiest one to do. Warrior 1 is a pose that can easily be used to transition into many other poses, which makes it useful to add into flows.
This pose is seen very often in yoga flows because of how versatile it can be and all the things that can be added to it. It’s one of the easier poses to use when going from something like a downward dog to a standing position.
The basics of warrior 1 pose
Warrior 1 is known as Virabhadrasana I in Sanskrit, which directly translates to warrior 1. It’s a pose used to get into other poses or to work on foundations. Warrior 1 has many elements that make it but it’s an easy pose that almost everyone can do. It’s mostly added into beginner flows to help beginners work on elements for other poses, which makes it a beginner level pose.
This pose essentially targets the entire body. Everything is being used in warrior 1, from the feet all the way to the head. The arms are engaged by being held overhead and the legs are engaged to help keep the body steady. The core is engaged to keep the spine straight. Even the feet are engaged to keep the body stable.
The benefits of practicing warrior 1
Warrior 1 has many benefits but the biggest one is that it prepares the person for more challenging poses. It teaches the basic elements of many yoga poses and allows the person to learn about core engagement, balancing, alignment, and lengthening in poses. Warrior 1 stretches and strengthens the shoulders, chest, ankles, and thighs.
It’s a pose that makes a person feel incredibly grounded and strong because of how easy it is to hold. It also has the ability to make someone feel more confident and powerful. At the same time, because it’s an easier pose, it’s also very gentle. It can calm a person and ease anxiety when practiced.
How to do warrior 1 pose
Step by step instructions for getting into the pose
- Begin in a downward facing dog with feet hip-width distance apart and hands shoulder-width distance apart. Make sure you’re pushing into your hands and not dumping any weight into the shoulders. Bend the knees as much as is needed in this pose.
- Start with the right leg by lifting it off the ground and bringing the foot forward to place it in between the palms.
- Before rising up, work from the ground up. Spin the back foot so that the toes are pointing to the left corner of the mat. Make sure the front knee is stacked over the front foot before engaging the legs to lift the torso up.
- Straighten the spine and have the torso facing forward, whilst the hips stay natural. Don’t force the hips to be square. Straighten the spine and keep the bend in the front leg.
- Begin to raise the arms above your head with the palms facing each other. Free up the neck area to make sure that you’re not crunching in the neck or tensing up.
- Keep the legs and arms engaged while the gaze is straight ahead, looking forward.
- Stay here for 5-10 breaths making sure to be breathing deeply before gently releasing from the pose. Step back into a downward facing dog before trying the pose out and following the steps again for the left side.
Common mistakes made when doing the pose
One of the biggest mistakes people make when doing warrior 1 is that they try to square their hips. Many teachers will also cue the students to square their hips, but it doesn’t need to be done. Due to the placement of the back leg and foot, squaring the hips would be uncomfortable and for no reason as it has no physical benefits to do so.
Another mistake that people make when doing warrior 1 is that they spin their back foot almost parallel to the back of the mat. The back foot doesn’t need to be at such a wide angle. It merely needs to be pointing towards the corner of the mat or in that general direction.
For those who are trying out warrior 1 for the first time, always work from the ground up. Make sure that the feet are in alignment first and go from there. Check the front knee is over the front ankle and you’re not bending too deeply into the front leg.
When rising up, make sure the torso is over the hips and not leaning forward. Have the arms in line with the torso with palms facing each other. Engage the core slightly to keep the spine as straight as possible. Don’t crunch in the neck, keep the gaze going forward.
If someone has been injured in their legs, spine, chest, ankles, arms, or shoulders then they should not be doing this pose. Similarly, if anyone is feeling any sort of pain in these areas, then they should also avoid this pose and try something gentler. Always listen to your body to know if something is hurting and never push past pain. Slowly and gently back off from the pose if any pain is felt. Consult a doctor or physician before trying out a yoga pose or any physical exercise and movement.
To make this pose harder, a high lunge can be done. In this variation, the back leg goes onto the ball of the back foot, and then the hips are squared. The front knee stays over the front ankle and the arms stay above the head. This variation engages the thighs more and requires more balance. It also stretches the groin and thighs.