My latest article for the Stanly News and Press:
One of the best parts about having years of Yoga practice under my belt is that I can see a pose go from one of my least favorites to one of my most favorites. That is definitely the case with Warrior III, or Virabhadrasana III.
Warrior III is an empowering balancing pose that requires proper alignment and abdominal strength to accomplish and hold. Because you cannot see the leg lifted behind you, it is a little difficult to know if your hips are square and if your lifted leg is spiraling inward. I tell my students that you probably need to rotate your big toe down and in more than you think you should.
My legs are longer than my arms, so until I am ready to balance, I prefer to place my hands on blocks to help me get my torso parallel to the floor. This is also a great option if your hamstrings are a little tight to add some ease to the standing leg. Never be afraid to use props to enhance your practice.
This pose will strengthen your ankles, legs, back and abdominals while it improves your balance, posture and alignment. If you do not love it at first, give it a chance to settle into your body and you might find that you eventually you will.
To practice this posture, start from a standing forward fold at the top of your mat. Place your hands on the floor or blocks directly under your shoulders and keep your left foot planted under your left hip. Begin to lift your right leg up behind you as you bring the crown of your head forward and press your right heel toward the back of the room. Flex your toes back toward your knee as you point the big toe straight down to the floor. In Yoga we utilize this “inward spiral” by using our inner thigh muscles to rotate the leg slightly inward. Inner thigh strength is directly associated with balance, so finding this spiral will make it easier to hold this leg up and lift the hands off the floor.
If you want to play with balancing in Warrior III, begin to lift one hand up at a time and place it either on your heart or reach it forward or backward. Once you feel steady with one hand lifted, explore lifting the other to the same space. Be sure to keep your eyes on your drishti, or focal point. Take five to seven breaths in and out slowly through your nose before repeating on the other side. Feel empowered like a strong warrior.