Warrior 3 pose is a standing balance pose, which is done standing on only one leg. There are a few variations of the pose but the one most used in yoga sequences is the one standing on one leg with everything else balancing off the floor. This pose takes a lot of strength from the legs and the glutes to keep the alignment of the pose without falling out of it.
As with any standing balance pose, warrior 3 requires extreme focus and stillness. To stay balanced in the pose the Drishti (focal point in yoga) needs to be maintained. When focusing on something that isn’t moving, lifting into the pose, and holding it is a lot easier. Moving slowly and keeping a focus on one point is another way to not fall about whilst entering the pose.
The basics of warrior 3 pose
Warrior 3, which is known in Sanskrit as Virabhadrasana 3, is one of the many warriors found in yoga. The warriors are poses meant to bring strength and grounding. These are exactly the qualities that can come from practicing warrior 3. Even though it’s a standing balance pose, it’s one of the easiest. It’s used as a peak pose in beginner flows making it a beginner pose
The main muscles that warrior three targets are those in the legs and glutes. Both legs and the glutes need to be activated to get into and hold the pose. The pose also stretches the hamstrings of the standing leg because when moving forward, the standing leg comes into flexion. This makes it a good preparation pose for more flexible poses like standing splits where the leg is in more intense flexion.
The benefits of practicing warrior 3 pose
Practicing warrior 3 has the ability to strengthen your ankles, calves, thighs, glutes, and even the core. When doing the pose, all of these muscles are engaged and by continuous practice they would get significantly stronger. It also stretches the hamstrings and therefore over time would increase hamstring flexibility and prepare the hamstrings for poses like splits.
Warrior 3 takes a lot of focus and therefore increases concentration for those who practice it. Balancing in the pose stabilises a person and trains them for harder poses like arm balances and inversions. By strengthening the core, this pose also strengthens the spine, which improves posture because the two are directly related.
How to do warrior 3 pose
Step by step instructions for getting into warrior 3 pose
- Start in Tidasana, a standing pose with feet hip-width distance apart and arms next to the sides of the body with palms facing forward.
- Lengthen the spine and make sure to not round or crunch in the lower back. Keep this length the whole time.
- Bring the hands to the heart centre in a prayer position and hold them like that.
- Begin to ground into the right foot first, slowly begin to lift the left foot off the floor as you lean forward. Maintain a straight spine the whole time, engaging the core and the glutes will help with this.
- Focus on something on the floor that isn’t moving as you slowly keep leaning forward. Keep the hips squared as you move forward being careful to keep both hips parallel.
- The aim is to get the torso and leg in one long line so that they’re both parallel to the floor and the body is in a T shape. This may be a bit difficult for some, and there’s no need to go all the way if the body isn’t ready for it.
- Hold the pose for 5-10 breaths before slowly coming back up to standing the same way you got into the pose and going to the other side.
Common mistakes made when practicing warrior 3
One of the biggest mistakes people make in this pose is opening their hips instead of keeping the hips square. This makes it harder to balance and usually results in falling around. It’s sometimes useful to picture standing on the leg that’s in the air as if it was still on the ground, this helps to maintain straight hips.
Another thing that people do is that they forget to engage the core and the glutes, which would make getting into warrior 3 extremely difficult. Engaging those muscles can be the make or break of what gets someone into this pose and it helps to tone those muscles for other poses.
Moving into this pose slowly is crucial for beginners and even for those who are already familiar with the pose. It helps to imagine moving in honey whilst going into the pose. Moving slowly will make it easier to keep the alignment and not fall out of the pose. Remembering to lengthen whilst leaning forward will also help and keeping the visual of the T shape will improve the alignment in warrior 3. Engaging the glutes, core, and thigh will make it easier to maintain and hold the leg in the air. Don’t underestimate how helpful it is to engage the correct muscles.
Warrior 3 shouldn’t be done if someone has any kind of leg, ankle, glutes, or spine injury. If there is any pain being experienced in any of these areas, then it should also be avoided. Always consult a doctor or physician before going into any physical exercise or movement. If there is pain felt whilst practicing the pose, then slowly come out of it and rather try a gentler pose
A variation of warrior 3, which is easier, is doing it with blocks or pillows on the floor. The hands will come onto the blocks or pillows once the body is in a T shape for more support. This is a good pose to do when working towards a full warrior 3 because it builds the same strength.
To make this pose harder the arms would go overhead so that they’re in line with the ears and palms are facing each other. This means the arms, torso, and leg would all be in one line. This version of warrior 3 requires more strength because there is more load being held in this version.References: