The pose of the week is the standing pose Virabhadrasana A or Warrior I. Standing poses represent a grounding foundation for the rest of the asana class. Try to develop body awareness and a foundation to work with and rely on throughout the whole practice. There is a strong connection between body, breath and mind in those poses. We always aim to consolidate strength, lightness and ease of the movement.
Enter by starting of in downward facing dog. Bring one foot to the front between your hands. The back foot should rotate 45 degrees outwardly. The hip should face the front. The back foot should have an active mount of the big toe in order to improve stability in the pose. Both shoulders should be aligned. Press the outer curve of the foot. Thighs should rotate inwardly. The shoulder blades should not touch each other or be too far apart. Rise your arms up and stretch the arm out letting the palms of the hands touch each other.
Exit by placing both hands on the floor and push yourself back into downward facing dog. In case you are practicing Vinyasa Flow and Warrior I is part of the Surya Namaskara B (sun salutation B) sequence you can also go into your flow by going into plank, lower plank, upward facing dog and downward facing dog.
There are many mistakes that need to be avoided by yogis attempting this pose. The knee should not surpass the toes. The lower back shouldn’t be arched either. That might lead to back pain. It is not only a problem if the knee is too much forward but also if the knee goes too far backwards. That would hinder the stretch on the thigh. Twisting the spine is also not part of this pose since the hip should face the front and be in line with the torso. The knee should also be in line with the ankle. Otherwise ankle pain might occur.
Here are some helpful alignment cues. In case your flexibility doesn’t allow to lower your heel to the floor, simply keep the heel lifted and actively press down. Roll the buttocks down. Hip shall be square, the thigh should rotate inwardly and parallel to the floor. Press the knee more than the toes for more stability on the knee joint. The upper body shall be lifted. Relax the neck when you look up at your hands that are touching each other. The shoulders shall roll outwardly.
Benefits of this pose are a stretch of the hip flexor, the lengthening of the spine, the opening of the lungs and heart, the strengthening of the thighs as well as an engaged core. That promotes determination to goals. People with scoliosis should be careful with the pose. Contraindications are knee pain, ankle and hip injuries.
The following tips can help you to perfect the pose. Use a yoga block under the back foot to give the thigh more stability. You can also use a yoga strap to push it down with the foot and hold on to the other end of the yoga strap with your hands. This is to improve balancing your weight between both feet. You can also press the heel against the wall to achieve the same thing. Keep the leg straight while doing that.
Have fun trying that pose and if there are any questions, do not hesitate to contact me.