Today's installment of "Do This! Not This!" is Warrior 2, or Virabhadrasana II. Whether you hold this pose to strengthen the legs and shoulders, or use it as a transition, it's a staple in most yoga classes. Let's take a closer look at how-to properly practice Warrior 2, and what to avoid.
- Take a wide stance. Front foot is on 12 o'clock and back foot is slightly turned inward. Align the front heel to the back of the arch of the rear foot. Press into all four corners of your front foot. Push down into the outer edge of your rear foot, so the inner arch is light.
- Bend your front knee. If knees are healthy (no injuries or pain), flex the knee deeply. It's not necessary to have your front knee at a right angle to the floor, but it is possible. If you have knee issues, ease off the flexion (as in the photo).
- Both hips, both sets of ribs and both shoulders face the side.
- Spread the arms so one is reaching forward and the other reaching back. Palms face the ground. If the shoulders are fatigued, turn the palms skyward. Don't let the fingers get lazy -- stretch through every finger.
- Neutral spine! If you have a mirror, you might see that you are popping the chest and/or butt out, creating a curve in the spine. Elongate the spine by drawing the frontal ribs in, softening the tailbone down, and gently lifting the front of the pelvis. Engage the abs!
- One big misalignment is the forward lean - as demo'd in the lower photo ("Not This!"). This is when the upper body looks as though it is reaching, and is often caused from misaligned hips. Often the back hip is hiked higher than the front hip (take your hands to your hips to assess your own alignment). Lower the back hip - but be mindful that the front knee doesn't drop inward when you do. Externally rotate the front hip, slightly internally rotate the back hip.
- Once hips are re-aligned, stack the shoulders back over the hips, create length in the side body.
- Activate from the ground up. Squeeze inner thighs toward each other, engage the belly, draw the shoulder blades toward each other and squeeze the upper arm muscles.
Remember to check back regularly for more poses this month in "Do This! Not This!" or follow me on Instagram (@yogigoup).