Warrior II – Getting off the straight and narrow
By Rebecca Stone, RYT500, SOYA Lead trainer
In this day and age, we are learning quickly that “one size fits all” is often not the best idea.
Warrior Two is a fantastic example, as we step back into the pose. There is a cue that is often discussed in yoga asana: “keep the instep of back foot inline with the front foot”, or “line the back heel inline with the front”.
The asanas we practice are powerful and impactful. There are elements that must be understood to perform them correctly. But let us be careful to not get stuck in the idea that one is correct over the other.
Let’s think outside the box, especially for those that have limited mobility, particularly in external rotation of the hip joint.
It often serves us to be adaptable to explore variations. It is not about how correctly we are able to align our physical body, but rather the energy contained within the pose.
Warrior II is strong, engaged and powerful. It strengthens the hips and ankles, stretches the inner thighs, legs, shoulders and arms, and brings great focus to the mind.
This particular modification is good for those who have inflammation such as bursitis or arthritis of the hip, have had hip replacements, or are still building strength or mobility of the hip and low back. It is also great for those who struggle with balance!
The Two Key Alignments For Virabhadrasana ll (Warrior II)
1- Front knee is aligned over the ankle. The knee tracking in line with the center of the foot (so that you can see your big toe on the inside of your knee).
2- The pelvis is not so far in such an anterior (forward tipping) position, that the back is in a “sway”.
Please keep in mind:
- Please be properly prepared (physically and energetically) before attempting the pose.
- Establishing a firm foundation where the feet and core, pelvic and shoulder girdle are providing support are key.
- Feel your feet.
Often we cue students to line up their front heel to their back instep or heel, as if standing on a single track. For many this won’t be a problem to do. For others this cue will create a cycle of compensation. It all has to do with how much mobility is available for the hip, as well as general hip and core strength.
I will use this mod when I see this cycle: knee dropping inward (not able to see the big toe) or the pelvis is tipped forward creating an exaggerated lumbar spinal curve or “swayback” or the back knee ends up all funky and bent. If one cant fix the alignment without pain or compensation, it is something that must be addressed.
Sometimes cuing to engage the adductors (inner thighs) and ground the front foot is enough to fix the knee issue – but sometimes that fix results in the pelvis tipping forward. Or if we cue to find a neutral position of the pelvis by rooting the tail and engaging the core, then the knee may drop inward again… These two issues can be really connected!!
Here is truly one of the simplest and most wonderfully freeing variations to explore- get off the straight and narrow!
- Adjust the stance by stepping the feet wider apart, as if one is now standing on a broad plank, rather than a narrow line.
- This then creates the space needed for the restricted motion of the hips and back.
- This changes how much external rotation of the front hip is needed for alignment to occur (the knee can track open).
- There is less pulling on the inner thigh (and the back is able to find length).
- It also creates a wide stable base where the strength of this posture can be explored.
Give it a mindful try yourself and see how it feels!
Meet Rebecca Stone E-RYT 500
Rebecca graduated from SOYA’s program in 2010. The blessing of this curriculum, and learning with Mugs instilled a great love, respect and thirst for the authentic teachings of yoga. She is also a certified Children’s and Family Yoga teacher that loves to bring yoga to life through play and relationship building.
Creating yoga classes that are accessible, informative, and transformational for all ages and abilities is her passion. With the blessing of having a mother who was a physiotherapist for over 40 years, the opportunity to mentor under that wisdom has deeply influenced her understanding and presentation of the blending of yoga asana, functional movement principles and the mind/body/spirit connection.