Guest Author - Martha McKinnon
Warrior II Pose, Virabhadrasana II, is a wonderful standing pose that builds strength and stamina. Warrior II requires less opening in the hips than Warrior I, so if you have tight hips, itís a great way to create the openness required for Warrior I.
Regularly performing Warrior II will strengthen your ankles, arches, glutes, quadriceps, shoulders and arms while stretching your groins, hips, and inner thighs. It can help to relieve back pain and sciatica and since it is a weight-bearing pose, is good for osteoporosis too.
As a former low back pain and sciatica sufferer I can attest to the benefits that Warrior II provides. It seems that the more I stretched my hips, the less my back ached, until one magical day when I realized I was pain free.
As with all the standing poses, Warrior II is a great basic pose for beginners and experienced yoga enthusiasts providing the foundation required for more challenging postures. As with all yoga poses, there's a lot more going on than first meets the eye. Holding this pose for several breaths can really get your heart pumping and increase circulation.
To perform Warrior II pose, from mountain pose, step your feet wide apart. Extend your arms out to the sides at shoulder level and relax your shoulder blades down and onto your back. Ideally your ankles will be beneath your wrists. Turn your right foot out 90 degrees (directly to the side) and turn your left foot in slightly. Align the heel of your right foot with the arch of your left foot and firmly snuggle your feet into your mat. Itís important to establish a strong foundation for your pose.
With your feet firmly rooted and your legs strong, bend your right knee to 90 degrees creating a right angle, with your thigh parallel to the floor and your shin directly over your ankle. Your knee will want to turn in, but don't let it. Think about directing your right knee out toward the little toe side of your foot.
Check out your back leg and make sure it is strong and the outer edge of your back foot is connected with the floor so that your back ankle doesn't collapse. Your torso should be long and vertical with shoulders over hips.
Take several smooth steady breaths as you gaze out over your extended right hand and assume the inner steadiness of a warrior.
To come out of the pose safely, root through your feet, as you draw your legs together and straighten your right let.
Repeat Warrior II pose on the left.
Practicing Warrior II pose on a regular basis will also help develop your inner warrior spirit, increasing endurance, focus, and willpower.