Ashtanga yoga is a dynamic and potent style that emphasizes the synergy of breath and movement. A cornerstone of this practice is Virabhadrasana, or Warrior Pose.  It is the final posture in the standing sequence before you come to the floor to begin seated postures. This standing pose not only fosters strength and flexibility but also kindles an inner sense of power and concentration.

Virabhadrasana or warrior pose

Click here to watch a Yoga tutorial breaking down Virabhadrasana

Benefits of Virabhadrasana (Warrior Pose):

Strength and Stamina

Improved Posture



Mental Focus

Chest Expansion

Hip Opener

Inner Confidence

Virabhadrasana A & B


Heart Conditions: Avoid excessive strain on the heart and maintain moderation.

High Blood Pressure: Be cautious while practicing Warrior Pose, especially Virabhadrasana II, as the extended arms can potentially raise blood pressure.

Pregnancy: Widen your stance to modify the pose.  This will help you avoid deep lunges, which will accommodate your changing center of gravity.

Neck and Shoulder Issues: Avoid excessive strain on these areas when lifting the arms.

Knee Issues: Avoid deep bending in the knee of the front leg.  Also, keep the knee in line with the ankle to prevent additional strain.

Lower Back Issues: Be cautious while practicing Virabhadrasana.  Maintain proper alignment and avoid overarching your back.

Hip Issues: Modify the pose to avoid extreme external rotation of the hip joint.  It is also advised to consult with a qualified yoga teacher or healthcare professional.

Recent Surgery: Consult your doctor or physical therapist before attempting this pose.

It is really essential to listen to your body and work within your own limitations. If you’re new to yoga or have any underlying health concerns, it’s recommended to practice under the guidance of a qualified yoga instructor or healthcare professional.

Warrior pose or virabhadrasana

Click here to watch a Yoga tutorial breaking down Virabhadrasana

Step-by-Step Instructions for Virabhadrasana A & B:

Virabhadrasana comes right after Utkatasana in the Ashtanga Yoga standing sequence.  We will begin the vinyasa count for today’s posture from Downward facing dog or vinyasa #6:

Virabhadrasana A (or I)

Vinyasa #7 – from down dog, pivot your left foot flat (45 degree angle) and step your right foot forward between your hand.  Inhale raise your arms up over head and press your palms together.

Lookup to your hands (hastagrai Drishti).

Take five deep breaths

Make sure you continuously press your feet down and out and lift your chest upwards.

Vinyasa #8 – Exhale, straighten your right leg and reverse your feet so you are facing the back of your mat.  Bend your left knee to 90 degrees. At the same time, try to keep your arms in the air overhead with palms together, and your eyes up to your hands.

Look up to your hands (hastagrai Drishti)

Take five deep breaths

Virabhadrasana B (or II)

Vinyasa #9 – Inhale – take your arms out to the side in line with your feet.  Keep your left knee bent.  Externally rotate your right hip out to the right and left knee to the left.  Engage your back and extend through your arms and fingers.

Look to the fingers of your left hand (hastagrai drishti)

Take five deep breaths

Vinyasa #10 – Inhale – straighten your left leg, reverse your feet and bend into your right knee 90 degrees.  Keep your arms extended, your back engaged and reach out through your fingers.  Press your feet down and out.

Look to the fingers of your right hand (hastagrai dristhi)

Vinyasa #11 – Inhale – At the end of your fifth exhale, lower your arms to the floor placing your right hand to the outside of your right foot and left hand outside your left foot.  In a more advanced version, press your hands into the floor and lift your lower body off the ground to jump back.

Vinyasa #12 – Exhale – Step or jump back into Chaturanga Dandasana

Vinyasa #13 – Inhale – Upward facing dog

Vinyasa #14  – Exhale – Downward facing dog


Click here to watch a Yoga tutorial breaking down Virabhadrasana


Modifications for Virabhadrasana I (Warrior I)

Back Foot Angle: If it is uncomfortable to pivot the back foot at a 45-degree angle, keep your foot parallel to the back of your mat. This will reduce any strain on the hips and provide greater stability.

Arm Variation: If taking your arms overhead causes discomfort, bring your hands together in prayer position or keep your hands on your hips.

Feet Position: Try to shorten your stance or bring your feet closer together if you struggle to balance in this pose.


Modifications for Virabhadrasana II (Warrior II)

Shortened Stance: If balance is challenging, reduce the distance between your feet to create a shorter stance.

Gaze Direction: If looking over your front hand strains your neck, maintain a neutral gaze forward or downward.

Arm Position: If raising the arms parallel to the floor is uncomfortable, rest your hands on your hips or maintain them in a prayer position.

Supportive Wall: Practicing Warrior II against a wall can provide support and stability, allowing you to focus on alignment.

Modifications should always be tailored to your individual. It’s imperative that you listen to your body and honor its limitations.  Yoga is here to help us become more in tune with our bodies. If you’re unsure about which modifications to practice, it is advised that you seek out a knowledgeable yoga teacher who can provide personalized assistance and adjustments.

Virabhadrasana, or Warrior Pose, is a foundational aspect of Ashtanga yoga practice. Its dynamic essence not only augments physical strength and flexibility but also nurtures mental focus and determination. Remember to attune to your breath and alignment as you flow through Virabhadrasana I and II, and seamlessly incorporate the Sanskrit vinyasa count for a harmonious practice. Through consistent dedication and mindful engagement, you will discover yourself embodying the attributes of a warrior both on and off the mat.

Click here to watch a Yoga tutorial breaking down Virabhadrasana

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I am a level II authorized Ashtanga Yoga teacher and I am passionate about sharing these teachings with all who wish to learn.

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