The Warrior Pose series is based on a fascinating tale about a fierce warrior, Virabhandra, sent to get revenge for an act of betrayal. The first expression or Virabhadrasana I, marks his epic arrival, swords in hand, plowing up through the earth. In Warrior II, Virabhandra comes face to face with the enemy, before ultimately killing him, in the final aspect, Warrior III.
This guide is going to prepare you for the final face-off of which you’ll first need to learn Warrior Pose II virabhadrasana II. But we hope you’ll also find compassion and bring your slain foe back to life, as the story goes…
Let’s go over the muscles worked, benefits, common mistakes, and variations of this second stage pose.
Muscles Worked During Warrior Pose II
Powerful legs, strong hips, a tall and confident midsection, and a dominant pair of shoulders and arms create the ultimate fearless warrior. Learn the importance of these muscle groups in Warrior II, below.
Legs – There’s no warrior without a pair of legs that can stand up to the battlefield. Here your quadriceps (anterior thigh), hamstrings (posterior thigh), hip and gluteus maximus, and calves make up the strongest and most explosive group of muscles.
Hips – Including the butt muscles, your hips are a center controller of which the upper and lower body operate. As a ball and socket joint, your hips balance everything above it, and supports the many activities that create force in the upper body. At the bottom half, your hips are important for force transmission, and movement of the lower limbs.
Abdominals – A weak posture signals submissiveness, and vulnerability. Use your spinal erectors core muscles to lengthen the spine and show up with a strong, upright stance.
In addition to strengthening the body, Warrior II provides a thunderous stretch in the feet, stretches the legs, hips, abdominals, obliques, neck, and back.
How To Do Warrior 2 Pose – Virabhadrasana II
While Warrior pose II is a beginner posture, don’t underestimate how much is actually involved. The following steps will help guide you and is a helpful checklist to ensure you’re in the correct position. Only then will you feel an intense stretch in all points!
- Start in mountain pose at the top of the mat, which is essentially standing up tall with good posture, feet hip width and abs slightly engaged.
- Step your left foot back and bend the right knee in a high lunge.
- Open the hip and turn the left foot out so the toes face the left side, and the left foot is parallel to the bottom of the mat. You can also turn your back foot slightly in toward the right foot.
- Place your hands on your hips to help maintain control, then sink a little deeper into the lunge. Keep the front shin vertical with the right knee over the ankle, and maintain a tall, upright spine. Your torso should face the left side of the mat.
- Straighten the arms out horizontally with the right arm over the right foot, and the left arm over the left leg. Face the palms down.
- Bring your eyes to your right hand middle finger.
- Hold and focus on breathing in and out. Stay for 20-30 seconds or even longer.
- To switch sides, inhale, exhale, straighten the front leg, bring the hands to the hips and face the left side of the mat with both feet pointing forward in the same direction.
- Now turn the left foot out and leave the right foot where it is, or move it slightly in.
- Repeat the technique.
To show you Warrior II we included a short video demonstration below.
If you have a little more time to learn Warrior II, we highly recommend taking a few minutes to watch this video tutorial which goes a little more in-depth.
- Focus on breathing in and out throughout the pose, rather than trying to aim for a specific number of breaths.
- While in the Warrior pose II, you can also turn your palms up, and retract your shoulder blades to free up the deltoids, increasing mobility.
Benefits of Warrior Pose II Virabhadrasana II
While Warrior Pose II seems rather simple, there’s a lot going on in the details. Here are some benefits you can expect from virabhadrasana II when it’s done correctly.
Condition your legs
Warrior pose II is a form of isometric training where the muscles generate force, but do not noticeably lengthen and contract per each repetition, unlike isotonic exercises where the limbs bend and straighten many times during a set of exercise. This can have positive effects on muscular strength and endurance.
Learn the differences between isotonic vs isometric exercises here.
Strengthen your mind
As we’ll also explain in the common mistakes section later on in this guide, knowing that you must maintain a high lunge position can challenge your mental strength. It’s going to burn and cause a little discomfort and you’ll need to tap into your warrior mentality to not bail out of the pose after just ten seconds.
Victory comes from a strong will, and seeing the end goal before you get there!
Get a total body stretch
If you’re doing Warrior pose II right, you should feel a beautiful stretch in the legs, torso, neck and even the biceps. And this is why making sure your body is in proper alignment because if it’s not then you won’t get the stretch throughout the body like you should.
There’s a reason for every step in Warrior II, and if you want to gain the most benefit, try to avoid these common mistakes and bad habits.
Forgetting proper alignment
Every pose requires several steps and consequently, we can forget that we need to be in the proper alignment, or you won’t feel the benefits of stretching and strengthening. Warrior II is not like a conventional lunge, although it’s just one aspect of the pose. Although a novice technique, it does require attention to detail as there are various components. Use your arms to ensure your torso is in proper alignment.
Shifting the pelvis too much
Without proper instruction, one may be confused or just not aware of the correct hip mechanics in Warrior II pose. Well, the idea is to move the legs without bringing the hips along in the same direction. This will maximize the stretch in your legs, and is good postural practice for many poses.
Allowing the knees to move over the toes
A proper warrior stance is strong, prepared, and not easily thrown off balance. A high lunge posture provides the optimal combat position with the knees strong over the ankles, able to create distance with the opposition. And yes, it could potentially be safer on the knees, and better positions your legs for the stretch.
Unbending the knees
With a name like warrior pose, don’t give up so easily with the first sign of a little lactic acid build-up, aka the burning feeling in the muscles. Try and resist the urge to immediately give in to a little discomfort, keeping the knees bent or even dipping a bit lower into the lunge.
Variations of Warrior Pose II Virabhadrasana II
There are a few primary variations of Warrior pose II virabhadrasana II, and they’re a bit more difficult but extremely potent.
Reverse Warrior Pose
Now to introduce more movement in the warrior stance, this reverse variation is essentially a side bend, activating the lateral core muscles, and training you in a much less common position. When completed, the reverse warrior is a beautiful pose.
- Come into a downward facing dog position and allow your head to relax towards the floor. Take a few breaths in and out.
- Inhale, then lift your right leg up toward the ceiling as high as you can. Exhale, spread the toes, and bring the right foot forward and plant it in between your hands. The right knee should be over the ankle or slightly behind it.
- Turn the rear foot to the left so that it’s parallel to the bottom edge of the mat.
- Stand up straight and make a cross with your arms raised to shoulder level from the front to the back of the mat. Your right fingers should point toward the top of the mat in the same direction as your right foot, while the left arm should extend toward the back of the mat over the back foot. Focus your gaze toward the front of the mat above the right arm.
- Now raise the right arm up and over your head towards the back of the mat at an angle, and simultaneously bend sideways in the same direction, tilting your head back and gazing up at your fingers with the palms toward you. Keep the shoulders relaxed away from the ears.
- Breathe into the lateral torso, and breath out.
- Inhale, windmill the arms forward, drop down and bring the hands to the floor.
- Straighten the right leg behind you in a push-up position, and then return to the downward facing dog.
- Repeat now with the leg left forward, and right leg back.
- Refrain from tilting the hips but rather try to keep them as level as possible.
- Be careful not to push the knees too far forward, and try to keep them above the ankle.
You can also watch a short and sweet reverse warrior video tutorial below.
With no better name than triangle pose trikonasana, if done correctly, your body should form three triangles. It does require pliable hamstrings, mobile hips, and upper body flexibility, but you can also utilize a block as a training aid until you gain full motion to perform its full expression.
- Bring yourself into a wide stance pointing the right foot toward the top of the mat, and turning the back foot to the left side of the mat. You can move the left foot slightly inward toward the top of the mat but keep them at a roughly 45-degree angle to the right foot.
- Maintaining straight legs, reach your right arm down and place your hand on the floor just outside the ankle. If you cannot, use a yoga block to rest your hand on.
- Now rotate your chest to the left and extend your left arm straight up toward the sky. If done correctly, both arms and wrists should form a straight line. Then just focus on enhancing the trunk rotation as you lift the chest. Actively engage the inner thighs by pulling them up and inward toward each other.
- Come out of the pose by shifting back onto the rear foot, and lift up, changing the position of the arms, and transitioning to the same pose in the opposite direction.
Here’s a quick demo of the triangle pose.
Half Moon pose
Half moon pose is like if you attempted a cartwheel but froze as soon as your body turned sideways. It’s a fun and challenging technique that we don’t do but need because of how it trains us in an alien position.
- Start in a front forward leaning lunge with the right foot in front, toes forward, and the left foot turned in at a 45-degree angle.
- Place the left hand on the left rear thigh, then extend the right arm to the floor and lean onto your finger tips, with the hand directly under the shoulder.
- Rise up onto the front leg, and lift the rear leg up parallel to the floor. The lifted foot should be pointed to the left with the feet flexed by pulling the toes up toward the shin.
- Root down into the floor with the standing leg by pressing with the four corners of your feet, and extend the bottom leg.
- While looking down at the floor, extend the top arm vertical with the fingers pointing straight up toward the sky.
- Now you can adjust your gaze to the side or look up at the top hand to challenge your balance further.
- You’ll then perform the same technique but on the opposite leg.
Simple enough, right? While there’s nothing spectacular about the Warrior Pose II virabhadrasana II technique, there are lots of hidden benefits, and a fun story to go along with it. The successor to Warrior I, and prerequisite for the third iteration, each Warrior phase offers a unique twist, bend, challenge, etc. A fun series of poses, be sure to include the many variations of each angle, which are separate poses you should be learning anyway, as you develop your yoga and movement skills.