I’ve been doing this yoga blog for a little over a year now, and I don’t think I’ve done any posts on yoga asana. So from now on, every so often I’ll choose one asana and focus on it – what it’s good for, how to approach it etc. To start this series I’ve chosen, at random, Virabhadrasana 3 (Warrior 3).
This is a standing balance posture and brings in a bit of playfulness as it also feels like yoga flying, or ‘superman’ pose. I also call it ‘Capital T’ shape pose – as you can see from the picture. To come into this pose stand in Tadasana, arms by your side. Step forward with your right leg (I’m doing the left side in the picture just to confuse you) and bend the right knee keeping the knee over the ankle. Raise your arms up over your head along side your ears. You’re now in Warrior 1. From here, reach forward with the arms, lowering your chest to your (parallel-ish) thighs. Imagine you’re lowering an item onto a table infront of you.
Stay here, with the left foot on the floor, if your balance isn’t very good. Practice just lifting the back foot off the floor a bit. If you’re more confident with your balance, move your weight more into the right leg, begin to straighten the right leg and, as if by magic, the back leg lifts up off the floor and comes up, ideally up to hip height. You’re now in Virabhadrasana 3. Try not to let the hip of the flying back leg tilt up, keep the pelvis fairly level. Stay here breathing for up to 30 seconds, then lower the left leg back down, return through Warrior 1, and then step back into Tadasana. Repeat with the left leg leading.
Variations including having the arms out wide (see picture below), or, a modification for if your balance isn’t so good is to have a chair in front of you and reach forward to hold the back of the chair. Your back leg should still be lifted up off the floor.
So, what’s it good for? You will feel your abdominal core strength working, and the leg muscles are strengthened. Iyengar notes that it brings “harmony, balance, poise and power”. He also says that it’s “good for runners as it gives vigour and agility” (Iyengar, Light on Yoga, p. 51). Detailed information about the pose can be found in BKS Iyengar’s book Light on Yoga or in the Yoga Journal’s pose index.
(Pictures taken at Under The Lime Tree, a lovely vegetarian guest house near Angouleme, SW France. Nelly the cat declined to take part in the yoga.)