VIRABHADRASANA III: WARRIOR III

I have such a love-hate relationship with Warrior III! It’s so effective at improving balance and strengthening the body. But it’s so HARD!

BENEFITS OF WARRIOR III:

  • strengthening for whole body (especially the glutes! 🍑)

  • improves balance

  • improves posture

  • strengthens the ankles and feet

  • stretches the hamstrings

  • grounding

  • empowering

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TRADITIONAL VARIATION

From Tadasana, bring your hands together at your heart in prayer. Find your center. Engage your core. Hinge at the hips and begin to lift the right foot up off the floor. Flex the right foot as you lean forward, extending the leg straight back. Imagine trying to press that foot into a wall (or maybe actually use a wall if you want!) Keep a microbend in the knees to prevent hyperextension. Keep the hips squared (both hip points pointing down toward the mat like two headlights). You may need to pull the right hip in more than you think you do. Pull the navel in. Keep the shoulders relaxed. Experience a line of energy from the heel of the right foot to the crown of the head. If desired, you can extend the arms straight in front of you. This will make the pose more challenging. Keep the neck long and gaze at one point on the floor in front of you. Hold for 5-10 deep breaths.

KEY POINTS TO REMEMBER:

  • Microbend the knees

  • Engage your core!

  • Keep the hips square - right hip may need to come forward more than you feel like it does

  • keep the spine (including the neck) long

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ADDING A CHAIR OR BLOCKS FOR SUPPORT

Resting your hands on the seat of a chair or putting a yoga block under each hand will help you to balance in this pose as you build strength. (My head isn’t actually touching the back of the chair)

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ALTERNATE POSE: SPINAL BALANCE

This pose strengthens the same muscles and also challenges your balance, but you may find it a bit less intimidating since you’re closer to the floor in case you fall 😉

Start by coming into table top pose. Firm the abs in. Keeping the hips squared (both hip points pointing down toward the mat) extend the right leg straight back. Start by coming onto the ball of the foot, then experiment with lifting the leg up so that it’s parallel with the floor. Stay here, or further challenge yourself by lifting the opposite arm up. Hold for 5-10 deep breaths, then practice on the opposite side.

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ALTERNATE POSE: SUPTA PADANGUSTHASANA

Supta Padangusthasana will give you a similar stretch as Warrior III, but without needing to balance.

HOW DID IT GO?

If you tried any of these variations, I'd love to know how it went for you! Tag me on Instagram and use the hashtag #spoonieyogatribe in your photos for a chance to be featured on my page! Or post a photo in our private Facebook group to show off your progress! As a part of your membership, you can get personalized feedback on your poses. 

SUKHASANA: EASY SEATED POSE

This pose is called “easy,” but for many of us, sitting up straight can actually be really challenging! It requires a good deal of core strength, so as we’re building up to this, it can be helpful to have some alternative variations. Finding a comfortable seat is so important in yoga, especially when you want to be able to sit for awhile to meditate.

BENEFITS OF EASY SEATED POSE:

  • promotes good posture

  • opens the hips

  • boosts energy

  • grounding

YOU CAN ALSO FIND THIS POSE IN THESE YOGA CLASSES.

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TRADITIONAL VARIATION

Come down onto the floor and be seated. Cross the ankles in front of you. Root the sit bones evenly into the floor. Feel the tailbone lengthen toward the earth as the navel pulls in and up. This will keep the pelvis neutral and protect the low back. Knit the front ribs in. Relax the shoulders and get broad through the collar bones. Rest your hands on your thighs - I find that this helps the shoulders relax better than putting the hands on the knees, but you can choose what you prefer. Gently tuck the chin to create length in the back of the neck as you reach through the crown of the head. The eyes may softly close.

Stay here as long as is comfortable for you.

Sitting up straight can make us feel like we’re drifting back in space because most of us spend so much time hunched over. If you’re not sure if you’re sitting up straight, try practicing this pose at a wall (see photo/description below).

If your toes or legs easily fall asleep in this pose, try propping the pose with a cushion or bolster (see photos below).

KEY POINTS TO REMEMBER:

  • evenly root the sit bones into the mat

  • actively engage the core muscles

  • when you sit up straight, you may feel like you’re drifting backward in space

  • think shoulders over hips, crown of head over tailbone

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SITTING AGAINST A WALL

Sitting with your back against a wall will help to retrain your muscle memory to remember what it feels like to sit up straight. If you struggle with poor posture or if you have weak core muscles, I’d recommend this variation.

Sit with your sacrum and shoulder blades pressing into the wall. Sit up tall, lengthen the tailbone away from the crown of the head. Knit the front ribs together. Your natural lumbar curve will create a small gap between your low back and the wall. This is good. Lean back and let your head rest against the wall.

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ADDING PROPS: CUSHION OR FOLDED BLANKET UNDER THE HIPS

If you experience low back pain, hip pain or knee pain in this pose, elevating your hips with a prop may help this pose feel more comfortable. You can try using a folded blanket, bolster, cushion or yoga block. Find the height that feels right for you. Make sure to sit at the edge of the prop so only your seat is on the prop. Doing so allows the pelvis to come into neutral and creates more space for the hips to open.

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CHAIR VARIATION

To practice this variation, be seated at the edge of your chair with the feet flat on the floor and the knees over the ankles. Separate the knees so that they’re in line with the hips and the femur bones are parallel. Sit up tall and evenly press both sitting bones into the seat of the chair. Lengthen the tailbone away from the crown of the head, gently pulling the navel in toward the spine. Relax the shoulders. Dip the chin to create length in the back of the neck. Rest the palms of the hands on the thighs.

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ALTERNATE POSE: SIDDHASANA

If crossing the ankles doesn’t feel comfortable, try siddhasana. This pose is a lot like sukhasana, but iInstead of crossing the ankles, you’ll line the heels up in front of each other so that the tops of the feet are on the mat and the heels point up toward your face. Depending on your knees, this may or may not feel good. If your knees are sensitive, try sitting up on a folded blanket or cushion.

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ALTERNATE POSE: SAVASANA

Sukhasana is the go-to yoga pose for seated meditation, but you can meditate in savasana, too! It might be a bit harder to stay awake, but if it’s more comfortable for you to lie down, then I say to go for it.

HOW DID IT GO?

If you tried any of these variations, I'd love to know how it went for you! Tag me on Instagram and use the hashtag #spoonieyogatribe in your photos for a chance to be featured on my page! Or post a photo in our private Facebook group to show off your progress! As a part of your membership, you can get personalized feedback on your poses. 

BAKASANA: CROW POSE

Arm balances can seem really impressive and intimidating and impossible. But I would encourage you to give this pose a try! Crow pose was the first arm balance I learned as a yogi, and I think like me, you will surprise yourself with your own strength. You won't know what you're capable of unless you try. Even if you're not ready for an unsupported variation, one of these modification ideas can give you the same benefits!

Benefits of Crow Pose:

  • strengthens the whole body
  • targets the core muscles especially
  • improves balance
  • boosts confidence and promotes self-trust
  • promotes mental focus 
  • improves hip strength and flexibility

I would recommend warming up before you practice this pose. Some hip opening poses like Pigeon Pose and Garland Pose would be great choices. If you're practicing any of the variations that place weight on the hands, I would also recommend doing this practice to warm up your hands/wrists. 

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TRADITIONAL VARIATION

Start by coming into a squat on your tip toes with the big toes touching. Take the knees wide.

Place the hands flat on the floor, about shoulder width apart. Fan your fingers and press firmly into all ten fingers. The fleshy part of the hand between the index finger and thumb should also be pressing into the mat. The center of the palm is lifted. This focus on hand positioning will help to protect your wrists.

Snuggle the knees as close as you can get them into your armpits. The knees will be resting on the backs of your arms. Lift the hips up in the air and lean forward so that your weight shifts onto your hands. Engage your core. Pull the belly button in toward your spine. You will feel the back body round, and this is good. This is what is going to give you the lift you need.

When you're ready, lift one foot off the floor. See how that feels. Then lift the other foot. The big toes should be touching. 

This pose does require arm strength, but it also requires core strength and hip strength to hold the shape. I have seen people on Instagram doing crow pose challenges where they're timing how long they can hold it. But honestly, if you can only hold this pose for a couple seconds, that's great! I can only hold it for a few seconds myself. Because of this, I usually will do repetitions. So I'll rest for a couple breaths in between each attempt. This allows me to build strength at my own pace. Honor your body. Whatever you are capable of doing is worth doing.

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ADDING PROPS: BLOCKS UNDER THE FEET

Adding blocks will allow you to put more weight on your hands and create the shape of crow pose without actually lifting your feet. So this is going to help you feel more stable while still building strength. You can practice holding this variation for up to one minutes or you can practice doing repetitions of shorter holds.

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SEATED VARIATION ON BLOCKS

This variation is similar to Navasana (Boat Pose). To practice it, sit down on top of a yoga block. Extend your arms in front of you with the hands flexed. Engage the core muscles and pull the knees up toward the armpits. You can keep the toes resting on the floor, or if you'd like more challenge, you can lift the feet off the floor. Hold for up to one minute, or practice doing repetitions or shorter holds.

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CHAIR VARIATION WITH BLOCKS

For this variation, you will sit at the center of your chair so that when you lean into crow pose, you don't tip forward and fall on your face. In your seated position, take the knees wide. Then lean forward so that the knees are snuggling up toward the armpits. The hands are going to come onto blocks, about shoulder-width apart, adjusting the height of the blocks as needed. Press into the palms of the hands. Engage the core muscles and round through your back body. Bring the big toes together and lift the feet. Don't be fooled! This pose is challenging, even when done in a chair! Practice holding this pose for up to one minute, or practice doing repetitions.

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SUPINE VARIATION

This variation is my current favorite! In this variation you get to really focus on your hips and core. You're strengthening your core and teaching your body what it feels like to make the shape without worrying about falling. If you've never done crow pose before, I'd recommend starting here.

To practice this variation, lie on your back. Extend the arms straight up toward the ceiling like you're trying to push the ceiling away with your palms. Then engage your core muscles and bend your knees up toward your armpits. Lift your head. Get round in your spine. Feel the belly button pull in toward your spine. Hold the pose for 5-10 deep breaths or longer, depending on your comfort.

HOW DID IT GO?

If you tried any of these variations, I'd love to know how it went for you! Tag me on Instagram and use the hashtag #spoonieyogatribe in your photos for a chance to be featured on my page! Or post a photo in our private Facebook group to show off your progress! As a part of your membership, you can get personalized feedback on your poses.