A wonderful part of developing a personal yoga practice is discovering “flow” – connecting a variety of poses in a way that feels smooth and fluid. From Warrior 1 pose (TT, Jan. 6), we can continue with the Warrior series and move naturally into Warrior 2.
Like Warrior 1, Warrior 2 is a strong, muscular pose, excellent for developing lower body strength. It is a strikingly beautiful, fierce pose. As you move through the posture, bring your awareness to the alignment of your spine and limbs, and to the artistic lines you are creating with your body. Try to channel your inner strength, determination and courage from your center, sending that energy out through each cell in Warrior 2.
From Warrior 1, begin by lowering the back heel and rotating the instep of the back (left) foot out about 45 degrees, until it forms a straight line with the front (right) heel. The front toes continue to point forward, gripping strongly into your mat. Maintain the bend in your front knee, continuing to ensure the knee does not exceed the ankle, thus protecting the joint.
Rotate your hips so they are parallel to the long side of your mat. Send your weight into the outer edge of your back foot, and into your front thigh muscle. To challenge yourself, move your back foot farther back and deepen the bend in your front knee; this will increase the stretch for your left hamstring and the weight borne by your right thigh. Listen to what your body is telling you and go no further than what you feel comfortable with.
On an exhale, lower your arms until they are open wide to your sides, parallel with your hips. The front (right) fingertips extend toward the front of the mat, and the back fingers reach for the back of the mat. Engage each tiny muscle in your arms as you extend them away from your body; engage your triceps by rotating the wrists slightly inward, stretch out your fingers and palms firmly and reach outward with the whole arm. Roll your shoulders away from your ears, pressing your shoulder blades firmly together. Feel how this movement engages the muscles of your back, from your shoulders to your spinal erectors to your hips.
Engage the abdomen strongly, imagining you are pressing your ribs together in your belly. You should feel connected with your center of gravity in your lower stomach. Note the position of your gluteal muscles; they should be engaged to allow a straight line for your back. It is easy to allow a curve in the spine in this position, resulting in your bottom sticking out behind your warrior. Not only does this look a bit silly, it is also dangerous for the spine and lower back – so be sure to engage your abdomen and tuck in your tushy!
To complete the pose, direct your gaze over your front fingertips, rotating your chin to the right until you feel the muscles of your neck gently engage. As you look forward, inhale and exhale deeply and fully, find that warrior within, and send your ferocity throughout your body. Repeat with the left foot forward – breathe and enjoy.
Jennifer McLennan is a certified Iyengar yoga instructor who has practiced in India, Canada and Costa Rica. She is currently a private yoga teacher in the beach community of Santa Teresa, on the southern Nicoya Peninsula.