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All About Warrior Poses

April 01, 2022 4 min read

It wasn’t until I started researching that I realized how strange it is.

8 years into my Vinyasa yoga practice, it’s safe to say I know my way around the common asanas. I’ve spent my fair share of time flowing in and out of these shapes, without ever really thinking about the irony. Here I am practicing yoga, a peaceful practice, grounded in the principle of “ahimsa” (non-violence). In nearly every sequence, a set of shapes emerges that sounds anything shy of peaceful : the warrior poses. Sounds kind of violent, no?

To rectify this in my mind, I remembered the origin of yoga itself. One of the most respected yogic texts, the Bhagavad Gita is a conversation between Krishna and Arjuna, two fierce warriors mid-battle. Practicing warrior poses doesn’t condone violence, but instead honors the internal struggle we all face against our own ego and ignorance. We practice fierce poses like the warrior asanas to cultivate the strength needed to do right by ourselves and those around us.

What is the origin of the five warrior poses?

It wasn’t until I started researching that I realized how strange it is.

8 years into my Vinyasa yoga practice, it’s safe to say I know my way around the common asanas. I’ve spent my fair share of time flowing in and out of these shapes, without ever really thinking about the irony. Here I am practicing yoga, a peaceful practice, grounded in the principle of ahimsa (non-violence). In nearly every sequence, a set of shapes emerges that sounds anything shy of peaceful: the warrior poses. Sounds kind of violent, no?

To rectify this in my mind, I remembered the origin of yoga itself. One of the most respected yogic texts, the Bhagavad Gita is a conversation between Krishna and Arjuna, two fierce warriors mid-battle. Practicing warrior poses doesn’t condone violence, but instead honors the internal struggle we all face against our own ego and ignorance. We practice fierce poses like the warrior asanas to cultivate the strength needed to do right by ourselves and those around us.

What is the origin of the five warrior poses?

What’s in a name? In this case - strength. Warrior is “Virabhadrasana” in Sanskrit. Vira means “hero”, Bhadra means “friend” and asana means “pose.” The warrior poses are named after the fearsome warrior Virabhadra from Hindu mythology. He was created by the wrath of Shiva and is described as a warrior with great power. The story of Virabhadra is said to symbolize the internal struggle we all face against our own ego and ignorance.

All About Warrior Poses | Mukha Yoga

What’s in a name? In this case - strength. Warrior is “Virabhadrasana” in Sanskrit. Vira means “hero”, Bhadra means “friend” and asana means “pose.” The warrior poses are named after the fearsome warrior Virabhadra from Hindu mythology. He was created by the wrath of Shiva and is described as a warrior with great power. The story of Virabhadra is said to symbolize the internal struggle we all face against our own ego and ignorance.

The warrior asanas are said to have been developed by Krishnamacharya in the 1930’s. Two of his students, B.K.S. Iyengar and Pattabhi Jois continued to develop and modernize the poses, specifying the ideal alignment, gaze and focus.

What are the five warrior poses?

There are five foundational warrior asanas in yoga. They are all standing asanas, each with their own unique benefits:

Warrior I (Virabhadrasana I)

Benefits of practicing Warrior I: Virabhadrasana I is terrific for stretching your chest and neck, hips and groin, calves and thighs. It also builds stability and helps cultivate better balance. It can be practiced as a transition to many other standing asanas including Virabhadrasana III.


Warrior 2 Pose | Mukha Yoga

Warrior II (Virabhadrasana II)

Benefits of practicing Warrior II: Virabhadrasana II demands a lot of strength and helps to build stability and flexibility through the hips and upper body. It’s a great pose for new practitioners to become mindful of alignment and involving the entire body in an asana.


Warrior III (Virabhadrasana III)

Benefits of practicing Warrior III: The only true “balancing posture” of the warrior poses, Virabhadrasana III requires great focus and works the small muscles in the ankle and calf of the standing leg. It strengthens and stretches the entire back side of the body and requires deep concentration and presence.

Warrior 3 Pose | Mukha Yoga

Humble Warrior Pose | Mukha Yoga

Humble Warrior (Baddha Virabhadrasana)

Benefits of practicing Humble Warrior: To bow forward in Baddha Virabhadrasana requires core strength and balance through the back leg. Having the hands interlaced behind the back deeply stretches the shoulders and across the chest. Holding humble warrior pose can spark a sense of grounding and invoke feelings of gratitude and humility.


Reverse Warrior (Viparita Virabhadrasana)

Benefits of practicing Reverse Warrior: Typically practiced directly after warrior II, or as a transition, reverse warrior stretches and opens the side body. It also activates the back muscles and strengthens the hamstrings and quadriceps. Holding reverse warrior pose can help increase stamina and concentration.

Reverse Warrior Pose | Mukha Yoga

Victoria Maybee l Mukha Yoga
By Victoria Maybee; All Rights Reserved @2022

Victoria Maybee l Mukha YogaBy Victoria Maybee; All Rights Reserved @2022