Warrior 2 Pose is a classic yoga posture and an essential pose to know for anyone wanting to start a yoga practice. Although this pose comes second in the Warrior series, you will likely see it in class more frequently than its counterparts, Warrior 1 Pose or Warrior 3 Pose.
Many yogi’s find Warrior 2 Pose more accessible than the other Warriors due to the open hips and its expansive nature. After a long hold in Warrior 1 Pose or Warrior 3 Pose, Warrior 2 Pose may feel a bit like a treat.
Warrior 2 Pose differs from Warrior 1 Pose primarily in the alignment of the hips, shoulders and arms, as well as the spacing of the feet. Warrior 3 Pose adds even further differences, as it is a single leg balancing posture.
You’ll find Warrior 2 Pose in a variety of yoga class styles, including Ashtanga, Vinyasa, Hatha, Power, Iyengar, Hot, Alignment and Flow classes.
Confused about all these different types of yoga? Get clarity here.
Warrior 2 Pose is a great pose for beginners, but you’ll still find it beneficial after years of practice. There are many details that go into creating a strong and solid Warrior 2 Pose. Read on for all the information you need to safely practice this pose.
Warrior 2 Pose at a Glance
Sanskrit Name: Virabhadrasana 2 or Virabhadrasana B
Pronunciation: veer-ah-bah-drahs-anna two
Targets the Body: Full body posture that both builds strength and opens the body, and helps to build focus
Muscle Groups Involved: Shoulders, arms, spinal, hip flexors, glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings
Nuances: Tilting of the pelvis, alignment of the feet
Here’s How to Practice Warrior 2 Pose:
- Start in Mountain Pose (Tadasana) facing the short end of your mat with your hands on your hips
- Leaving your left foot where it is, take a large step back with your right foot as you open to face the side of your mat
- Traditional alignment has the heel of your front foot in line with either the heel or arch of your back foot
- Land with the back foot at around a 45 degree angle
- Bend deeply into the front left leg bringing the hamstring close to parallel with the floor
- Look down at your left knee, you want it stacked above your ankle
- If your knee extends beyond your ankle towards your toes, then crawl your front foot forward
- If your knee is knocking in towards the right corner of your mat, then press the outer side of your left knee open towards the left
- Notice how your hips are aligned, you want your hip bones to be even and open to the side of the mat
- The back hip has a tendency to hike up, drop it down in line with your left if necessary
- Firm the back leg by pressing down into the heel, pinkie and big toe mound of the back foot while lifting through the kneecap
- Extend your arms long with your palms face down
- Actively reach your arms forward and back
- Peek at your back arm and adjust it to line up directly over your back leg
- Bring your gaze (drishti) forward looking beyond your outstretched hand
- Lengthen your spine from the crown of your head to your tailbone
- Your spine should be pointing straight up and down, not leaning forward over your front leg
- Bring your right shoulder into alignment over your right hip if you find yourself leaning forward
- Keep your shoulders in a natural position, not reaching up towards your ears or pressing down so much it hurts your neck
- Release tension in your neck, jaw and hands
- When you are ready, return to Mountain Pose and try the other side
Ready to Practice? Check Out Warrior 2 Pose (And More Poses) In the Learning Yoga Video Series
Be sure to check out YA Classes’ Learning Yoga series, a comprehensive workshop-style program that breaks down over 30 of the most common, foundational yoga poses. Get started with this standing posture, Warrior 2 Pose.
Warrior 2 Pose Benefits:
As with all the Warrior’s, this pose is full of benefits for both the body and the mind.
It’s a major body strengthener. The ankles, legs, muscles of the back, core, shoulders and arms are all strengthened from practicing Warrior 2 Pose. In addition to strengthening, the chest, shoulders and groin are all opened and safely stretched.
Many yogi’s find Warrior 2 Pose more accessible than the other Warriors due to the open hips and its expansive nature.
When you find yourself holding a Warrior 2 Pose for a long time, you may begin to feel your body shake, or your mind wander. Returning your attention to your breath or the pose at hand will help to build perseverance and focus, both physically and emotionally.
Feeling strong on the mat benefits you off the mat and helps you to face daily life challenges from a position of strength and awareness.
Contraindications / Precautions to Be Aware of:
Proceed with caution if you have a knee, neck or groin injury. This pose may place too much pressure on any of these areas.
Adjust for these injuries by decreasing the depth of the bend in the front knee, or looking to the side of the mat rather than the front. For a groin injury, you may want to avoid this pose until healed.
Pregnancy creates a lot of stress on the body and affects balance, stamina, and even the curvature of your lower spine during the third trimester. All of these will affect your experience in this pose.
Warrior 2 Pose is considered a safe pregnancy pose, so make any adjustments needed throughout your pregnancy to feel supported.
Here’s How to Modify Warrior 2 Pose:
Like all yoga poses, there is no perfect shape to make in this pose that’s universal to all yogi’s. Adjustments may be necessary to help you maintain your balance or hold this pose for more than a few breaths.
Try these options to make Warrior 2 Pose more accessible:
- If the heel to heel alignment of the feet doesn’t feel sustainable for you, then widen your stance a bit
- Use a chair under your front thigh to provide support for balance and stability
- If your groin feels overstretched, then rotate your back foot in to more of a 35 degree angle
- Press the back foot into a wall to provide additional support if you find your legs spreading apart while holding this posture
Common Misalignments in Warrior I and II + How to Fix Them
Try These Warrior 2 Variations:
In Flow and Vinyasa style classes, Warrior 2 Pose is often used as a transition pose between other postures. You may also find a variety of arm options offered, such as Eagle Arms or Cow Face Arms. One of the most common variations is Reverse Warrior Pose.
For Reverse Warrior Pose:
- Leave your legs just as they are for Warrior 2 Pose
- Inhale and find a bit more length in your spine
- Exhale and reach your left arm up to the sky as you lean back towards your right leg
- Keep your chest open to the long end of the mat as you lean
- Your right hand can trace down your right thigh, or bring it to a half wrap by placing your forearm on your lower back
- With each continued inhale try to lengthen your spine again, and with each exhale see if you can lean a bit more to the back
- Even when we try not to, many times when we reach back, we decrease the bend in our front leg, so counter that by bending just a bit more in the front knee
Final Information and Tips for Warrior 2 (Virabhadrasana 2):
With so much going on in this pose, sometimes yogi’s forget about the importance of the front and back body core for support. Doing so can create a bit of a lumbar spine backbend or compression, which may cause pain.
A few gentle tweaks will help to keep your lower spine happy in this pose.
- To eliminate backbending, activate your front body core. Gently lift your hip points up towards your ribs while lengthening your lower back. You want to end with your sacrum in a neutral position, not flaring out behind you
- Externally rotate your front leg, think of lifting the inseam of your pants up towards the ceiling. Internally rotate your back leg slightly, think inseam of your pants down towards the ground. This inverse motion will help to eliminate compression of the lumbar spine
Along with the great physical and mental benefits offered, there is also a nice symbolism that pairs with the pose.
Starting with Warrior 1 Pose, we stand firm in our ground with our weapons ready as we acknowledge the battle ahead. In Warrior 2 Pose, we transition to a posture that is similar to drawing a bow, and we take action in battle. In Warrior 3 Pose, we lunge forward with a final blow to the enemy.
Wondering how yoga and mental health relate? Learn How Yoga Affects Your Mental Health (According to a Holistic Psychotherapist)
Although many of us will never physically battle another in this life, we all have personal battles and challenges that we face every day. Without effort and preparation to face these struggles, we might be overcome by them.
So, as you grow in strength on the mat, let that remind you that you can also grow in strength and build any skills necessary to fight whatever battles you are facing in your life off the mat.