Asanas in yoga: “the warrior” for more strength and stability

Asanas in yoga: “the warrior” for more strength and stability

Right after downward dog and mountain pose, the warrior variations are among the exercises we most often find in a yoga class. And rightly so, because they not only bring strength and stability to our body, but also some mental qualities.

How many different exercises (asanas) are there in yoga?

Over the centuries, physical exercises (asanas) in yoga have become the main component of the practice. While previously only a few different asanas were practiced and the focus was more on meditation, today we know a seemingly endless variety of exercises and new variations are constantly being added.

Why is the warrior so famous?

The warrior is one of the exercises (in most variations) that even newbies to yoga can practice well - even if their strength and flexibility are not yet very developed.

It is one of the standing poses that is usually part of the main sequence of a yoga class, as it warms up and strengthens the large muscle groups (especially in the legs). This means they prepare the body perfectly for many advanced postures.

Warrior variations also appear in classic exercise sequences, for example in Ashtanga Sun Salutation B and the first series. The warrior postures are also often woven into creative flows in Vinyasa Yoga.

What is meant by the warrior asana?

There is actually no such thing as a warrior asana. The best known are the Krieger I, Krieger II and Krieger III. These are not more or less advanced variations of the same exercise, but rather three different postures.

Over time, many variants have developed, each of which has several names, for example the peaceful warrior (also called the upside-down warrior) and the devoted warrior (also called the bowing warrior).

They all belong to the standing postures in which we stand on one or both feet.

Yoga: The Warrior and its Effects

In general, standing postures always strengthen our connection to the earth and help to build stability and strength in the base. Depending on the warrior variant, various other qualities are also added. The Warrior II particularly helps us to focus, while the Warrior III promotes our balance and concentration.

Why is the exercise so good?

The warriors look quite simple compared to other asanas - but they have a lot to offer. If we look closer and really want to understand the poses, it becomes clear how well we need to know our body in order to be able to hold them truly stable and balanced for a few breaths.

What does the yoga warrior do with the body?

All warrior asanas activate and strengthen our leg and butt muscles, especially if we hold them for longer. If we use our feet correctly, they also help to build and strengthen the arch of the foot. We find stability by activating the butt muscles of the back leg.

In most variations we stand on both feet in a wide lunge (the exception is the Warrior III). This opens the hips and we feel a stretch on the inner thigh of the back leg. In order to align the hips well here, we need many small muscles that stabilize the pelvis.

What does the yoga warrior do with your health?

Knees, hips, back – everyday office life leaves many people with problems. Most of them come from sitting in the same position for too long. This causes muscles to forget how to work and others become overloaded, which leads to pain in the long term.

All Warrior variants strengthen our legs, which are under-stressed when sitting. Even tense hips can breathe a sigh of relief here. People with knee problems benefit from the stabilizing strengthening of the knees. The back is allowed to work especially in Warrior III and gets a nice lateral stretch in the peaceful Warrior.

Who is the exercise suitable for?

Anyone who has no discomfort when standing can practice the warriors. As always with yoga, the postures and the length of time they are held should be adapted to individual physical requirements. If your own boundaries are respected, the warriors are a great exercise series for all levels and ages.

Alternative yoga warriors

Warrior I: Presence and clarity

The Warrior I (Virabhadrasana I) is very similar to the classic lunge, only here both soles of the feet are flat on the floor. This can be quite demanding on the hips and also on the ankle in the back leg, where a good degree of mobility is required. For these two reasons, the pose is often taught with the heel raised in the back leg and is then called the Warrior I variant. This pose actually has its own Sanskrit name, Alanasana, and is not one of the classic warrior positions.

How do I do the exercise?

  • Come into a large lunge with your feet offset as if on rails (for more stability).
  • Place both feet flat, the front one pointing to the front edge of the mat, the back one turned 45 degrees and pointing to the long edge of the mat.
  • Align your pelvis parallel to the front (short) edge of the mat. Then bend the front leg as much as possible without losing that alignment. The back leg remains stretched.
  • As you inhale, stretch both arms up over your head, palms facing each other.

Warrior 1

Tips for exercise

If lower back pain occurs, it is better to keep the back heel lifted and slightly bend the back leg.

The harder you press your feet into the ground and activate your leg muscles, the more stable you will be and the lighter your upper body will feel.

What mistakes are often made?

  • The feet are not actively grounded. So spread your toes and pay particular attention that neither the outside nor the inside edge of the foot comes off the ground.
  • Hips turn towards the wide edge of the mat. This is a sign of lack of hip mobility. Rotate your hips parallel to the front edge of the mat, then bend your front leg just enough to maintain that alignment.
  • Front knee falls inward. Make sure the front knee is aligned over the heel and pointing forward over the second toe.

Warrior II: Stability and Focus

Warrior II (Virabhadrasana II) is one of the best asanas to practice inner strength and calmness at the same time. The shape of the posture allows us to focus well, especially if we also include our gaze, which here is directed over the front hand.

How do I do the exercise?

  • Come into a big lunge. Place both feet flat, the front one pointing to the front (short) edge of the mat, the back one positioned across it (parallel to the back edge of the mat). Both heels are in one line.
  • Bend the front leg 90 degrees until the knee is exactly vertical over the heel. The back leg remains stretched.
  • As you inhale, extend both arms horizontally forward and back, palms facing downwards. The gaze is directed at the front hand.

Warrior 2

Tips for exercise

Adjust the distance between your feet so that you can keep your back leg straight and your front knee doesn't slide forward past your ankle.

Leave your shoulders as relaxed as possible to avoid cramping your neck.

The harder you press your feet into the ground and activate your leg muscles, the more stable you will be and the lighter your upper body will feel.

What mistakes are often made?

  • Rear foot is not actively grounded. Press the outer and inner edges of both feet equally actively into the ground.
  • Hollow back. Pull your lower stomach in and up. Pull your tailbone down towards the mat.
  • Front knee falls inward. Actively pull the outside hip of your front leg back and rotate the outside of your thigh downward until your knee points forward just over your second toe.

Warrior III: Balance and Freedom

In the classic form, Warrior III (Virabhadrasana III) is the most demanding warrior variation. While we stand on one leg, we try to balance the rest of our body horizontally. This requires a lot of stability in the supporting leg, but also good core and trunk muscles as well as a clear mental focus. When we develop these qualities through practice, we achieve balance and can experience a feeling of freedom and expansion in our posture. Then we feel almost like a bird soaring high in the sky and looking down at the earth.

How do I do the exercise?

  • From a standing position, lift one leg straight back while at the same time tilting your upper body forward like a standing scale. The upper body and back leg should be parallel to the floor.
  • Extend both arms backwards next to the sides of the body, to the sides like wings or forwards as an extension of the upper body. The last is the most demanding variant. You can also bring your hands together in front of your heart in Anjali Mudra.

Warrior 3

Tips for exercise

The back leg is often neglected here, but it is just as important for stability in the position as the front leg. Push your back flexed (bent) foot as if against an imaginary wall. To internalize this, you can actually practice in front of a wall at the beginning and press your raised foot against it.

Pull your lower ribs toward each other to stabilize your core.

What mistakes are often made?

  • Lack of stability in the supporting leg and lack of activity in the back leg. Press all four corners of your base firmly into the ground. Press your back foot in the air as if against an imaginary wall.
  • Hips turn up. Lower the outside hip of your lifted leg until it is at the same height as the hip of your supporting leg. Actively pull the outer hip of the supporting leg towards the back heel.

The warrior positions seem simple, but upon closer inspection they are full of subtleties and great qualities. That's why even advanced yogis who have been practicing for many years never get bored of them and can hardly be missed in any yoga class.

If you are looking for the right clothing for your warrior exercises that adapts optimally to your body even during deep lunges, does not slip and stays in shape, then take a look at our online shop . A large selection of sustainable yoga fashion for men and women is waiting for you here.