THE WARRIORS - PART II

Warrior two is my favourite warrior hands down, and it makes both the body and mind feel just great. As I mentioned in part one, the warriors feel victorious, empowering and uplifting, and they really do! Read on to find out more about number two.

Just like with warrior one, anyone with heart problems or high blood pressure should exercise caution and modify the pose to make it less strenuous (for example the bent leg can be supported by a chair). Warrior two is a strong standing pose with a focus on the legs and pelvic area. it stretches, strengthens and tones the leg muscles, stretches the groins, stimulates the abdominal organs, opens chest, lungs and shoulders. According to the yoga journal, it is also said to be therapeutic for a number of conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome, flat feet, infertility, osteoporosis and sciatica. i am unable to provide scientific prove at this point but let’s have a look at this again at the end of this post.

Basic instructions would go something like this (there are different ways to get there, this is an example of one):

♥ Stand with your feet about a leg's length apart, feet parallel

♥ Turn right foot out by 90 degrees

♥ Keep left foot as it is

♥ Align right heel with left foot arch (variations are available)

♥ Hips and torso are at about 45 degrees from right foot

♥ Raise arms parallel to the floor, reaching out to the sides with palms down

♥ Look ahead over the front arm (neck issues = keep looking straight)

♥ Bend right leg to 90 degrees, this means thigh becomes parallel to the floor

... and that’s it, warrior two!

Once in position, it is good to do a quick checklist of the pose starting from the foundation (always starting from the foundation!), feet in this case. The FEET are perpendicular (at 90 degrees) to each other, ideally the heel of the front foot is aligned with the arch of the back foot. If it is tricky to keep balanced in this position, align the front heel with the back heel instead. And if it still doesn’t feel well balanced, widen the stance even more to begin with. The ideal position to aim towards eventually is heel to arch, though it may not be feasible for everyone and that’s absolutely fine - yoga is flexible :) both feet are really strong, pressing with all four corners (big toe pad, little toe pad, inner heel, outer heel) into the ground, arches lifting. Again, as in warrior one, the FRONT KNEE alignment is very important as knees are famously (or infamously? what's the correct english?) Injury prone: the knee is directly above the ankle and never further forward than that; the knee is pointing forward over the second and third toe. If bending the front leg all the way to 90 degrees is not quite happening at the moment that is fine but the knee still needs to stay behind the ankle and point over the second and third toe.

The BACK KNEE also needs some attention here: it is easy to hyperextend it in this position, ie stretch it too far and lock the knee which leaves the tendons vulnerable. To protect the knee, microbend it slightly (ie bend it so little it is not even visible) and keep the muscles all around the leg strong, that means front, back, inner and outer sides of the lower and upper leg are all working hard. this actually happens almost automatically when the feet are strong (foundation!) as that's where the energy is coming from.

Moving on up, warrior two can feel a little awkward in the PELVIC AREA, partiularly for someone with tight hips (= most people, sporty or not). There are a few things to do to stop anything from jamming and pinching. First of all,  move the bum back a little to make space for thighs to roll in, back and out (in other words, stick the bum out, just like in the downward facing dog... still with me?). Then, keeping the thihgs rolled back and out, move the tailbone down towards the floor to correct the overarching of the LOWER BACK, and at the same time the pelvis will lift up slightly towards the belly. Now stretch up and out and feel the power :)

I promised to have a look at some of the less obvious benefits of the pose as listed in the yoga journal.

DISCLAIMER: please note that the below are my own personal observations based on my yoga studies and my own personal practice and experience. to be quite honest, it frustrates me when i find information like a list of benefits of a pose but no explanation because i want to understand the why, and so it makes me go and try to do just that through both research and practice. however, i am not a medical doctor and any scientific input and/or corrections are most welcome!

* FLAT FEET: keeping feet strong and lifting the arches in standing postures helps tone the foot muscles. I think this one is self-evident...

* INFERTILITY: The posture requires the body to get in a position where some pressure is applied to the abdominal organs which means that the organs get a gentle internal massage. this internal massage will increase the blood flow and, therefore, supply of oxygen and nutrients, and support the body’s inherent ability to regenerate and heal.

* CARPAL TUNNEL SYNDROME: Stretching the arms out to the side (turning palms up intensifies the stretch even more) stretches and releases the median nerve that runs from the neck in front of the shoulder, over the inner elbow and through the wrist to the hand (I found the handy illustration below  here). This in turn might help relieve symptoms.

If you made it all the way here... wow, thanks for reading and have a beautiful weekend!

P.S. you can find a great anatomical study of the pose here, scroll down to virabhadrasana II.