Thursday, May 10, 2012

Pose of the Week: Warrior II

I would like to begin sharing with you some of my favorite Yoga poses*.  The benefits -- both mental and physical -- of Yoga are countless, and I would love for you to learn to enjoy this ancient form of exercise as much as I do.  We all know how consistent I am in my posts, but I really would like to share a new pose with you each week.  I would like to remind you that each Yoga instructor typically has developed his/her own style or method of teaching, and poses often have more than one name.  If you have any questions regarding my teaching, please feel free to ask.  Also, I know that my legs are pale.  You might want to keep your sunglasses handy.

*Please remember to check with your doctor before beginning any exercise program.
I am not a doctor or a personal trainer, so I may not be able to address your specific contraindications.
I can only teach you what I know and what I have been taught.

I will begin with one of my favorite strength poses:Warrior IIWarrior II, also known as Virabhadrasana II, will help to lengthen and tone spinal muscles and the nervous system.  It strengthens glutes, quadriceps, and glutes; and stretches the chest and shoulder adductors.

To begin, place your feet about 4 feet apart.  The toes on your front foot should be pointing straight ahead, while your back food should be pointing to the side; creating a long "L" shape.  Your heels should be in alignment as if you were standing on a balance beam.

While I love practicing in the sanctity of my back lawn, I believe a
surface more stable than grass will have to be used
for future photographs.

Your hips and chest are opened up in the same direction (facing the same way as your back toes).  Now, create a bend in your front knee and luge slightly without allowing your knee to extend beyond your toes.  Extend your arms straight out to the sides and focus your gaze just beyond your front fingertips; your back arm should be at the same height as your front arm.  Tighten your triceps.  Keep your spine straight and your shoulders directly above your hips.

Both of these photographs show the improper holding of the Warrior II pose -- both of these
inaccuracies are quite common.  In the first picture you will notice my back arm is too high
and my shoulders are too far forward.  In the second, my front arm is too high,
my back arm is too low, and my shoulders are too far back.

Focus on tightening your back glute, and relaxing your shoulders away from your ears.  Hold this pose for five slow, deep breaths.  In this pose, you should feel strong, stable, and in control.  You should feel aware and prepared for action.  Repeat on the opposite side.

Warrior II

Modifications: Because Warrior poses tend to be strenuous, be mindful of your body if you have weakened knees.  Always listen to what your body is telling you, and respect your limitations.  Know where you are at today.  If you feel pain, stop what you are doing, or back off of your level of intensity.

Thank you for practicing with me.  Namaste.

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