5 Ways to Refresh Your Warrior 2 Pose

Melissa Nordin
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Yoga has many benefits to the body and mind. Yet sometimes our yoga poses can have a tendency to “get stale.” This often happens while in Warrior 2 pose.  For those who do not practice Warrior 2, let’s quickly review.
 
What is Warrior 2 pose?
Warrior 2 is a staple pose used in Hatha, Vinyasa, Ashtanga, and Power Flow yoga classes. This pose is used as a building block for other poses and often gets passed over or rushed through on the way to other poses.
 
Why is Warrior 2 important?
Warrior 2 has many benefits. With so much to gain, we won’t be glazing over this pose anymore!

•    Increases flexibility and strength in the shoulders and hips for more fluid range of motion.
•    Extends and strengthens the spine and surrounding back muscles.
•    Creates mindfulness in the core.
•    Builds strength and endurance in the lower body.

“Often times, when a pose gets ‘stale,’ it may be your body asking you to mix it up.”

Often times, when a pose gets ‘stale,’ it may be your body asking you to mix it up. The same repetitive motion performed over long periods of time can create muscle memory. Incorporating variations to these poses will help keep it fresh for both your mind and body.

 

Here are 5 variations to keep Warrior 2 fresh, engaging, and creative:

 

First, find your proper Warrior 2 alignment:
•    Feet together at the mat in Mountain Pose
•    Step the Left foot back, keep leg straight, and turn foot out to a 90º angle.
•    Bend into Right knee, aligning it over right toes (right toes face forward).
•    Turn the whole torso to face left, opening hips (both shoulders and hips should be facing left).
•    Both arms come up to a “capital T” shape at shoulder height, parallel to the floor, fingers glued together to keep arms active.

 

Start with a strong base. Alignment hints for Warrior 2:
•    Activate back gluts to keep back leg engaged.
•    Engage back quads to protect knee from buckling forward.
•    Press into back foot’s pinkie and big toe to engage back foot.
•    Bend the front knee deeply, then activate the gluts to keep entire leg engaged.

 

1. Warrior 2 Pose with “Cactus” Arms Strike a Pose:

Screen Shot 2015-06-19 at 2.16.21 PM
•    Bend arms at elbows. Bring forearms perpendicular to the floor like a goal post.
•    Drop elbows slightly, and pull shoulder blades together to engage the chest muscles and draw the shoulders down the back.
•    Engage lower belly muscles to protect the low back and hips.
•    Draw chin slightly towards chest to lengthen spine and back.
•    *Modification: Use strap to create additional tension or help line up hands.
 
Why you should try:
•    Strengthens shoulder muscles.
•    Increases range of motion in the connective tissues of the shoulders, chest, hips, and spine.
•    Extends, lengthens, and strengthens spine and neck.
•    Engages core.

 

2. Warrior 2 Pose with “Archer” Arms Strike a Pose:

Screen Shot 2015-06-19 at 2.16.07 PM
•    Back Arm: Bend the elbow, place that hand at the shoulder joint, draw shoulder blade to the midline and down the back while pointing elbow back.
•    Lean the body back in a “bow pulling” motion.
•    Front arm: Stays lengthened, engaged, and pointing towards the sky.
•    *Modification: Use strap to create additional tension and help align shoulders.
 
Why you should try:
•    Supports better posture.
•    Strengthens rotator cuff muscles.
•    Re-educates the muscles to work together.
•    Strengthens internal and external obliques (targeting “muffin top” area).

 

3. Warrior 2 Pose with “Eagle” Arms Strike a Pose:

Screen Shot 2015-06-19 at 2.15.56 PM
•    Hug yourself and bring hands to touch the shoulder blades.
•    Squeeze elbows together and bring them up towards shoulder height (customize for range of motion).
•    Glide shoulder blades down the back and to the midline.
•    Lift the ribcage upward while engaging the core.
•    *Modification: Take full Eagle Pose arms of wrapping hands around each other.
 
Why you should try:
•    Increases flexibility in connective tissues of the shoulder joints.
•    Strengthens back and core connection.
•    Creates mindfulness in balance.
 

 

4. Warrior 2 Pose with “Cow Face” Arms Strike a Pose:

Screen Shot 2015-06-19 at 2.15.45 PM
•    Front arm: Bend at elbow, touch crown of head, then slide that arm down to base of neck or mid-back.
•    Back arm: Bend at elbow and touch hand to lower back.
•    Keep spine long and strong without slouching and engage core.
•    Take full Cow-Faced arms pose by clasping hands together.
•    * Modification: Use a towel or strap to connect hands or opposite ends of the towel/strap.
 
Why you should try:
•    Increases flexibility in the connective tissues of the rotator cuff and shoulder joint.
•    Tones and strengthens mid-back.
•    Reduces strain from poor or slumped posture.

 

5. Warrior 2 Pose in Reverse Prayer Strike a Pose:

•    Take both hands behind back and clasp at fingers or wrists.
•    Engage core to prevent aggressive curve in lower spine or overloading hip joints.
•    *Modification: Use a strap or towel to connect hands.
 
Why you should try:
•    Increases flexibility in connective tissues of shoulders, elbows, and wrists.
•    Tones upper and mid-back.
•    Strengthens lower spine and hips.

 

Trying these simple yet unique Warrior 2 variations will challenge your body and provide a new twist on a classic favorite. Take your time to explore which variations feel good in your body, and pursue them. Have fun with it, and always be open to trying new things in your practice. This is how you continue safely challenging your body. Namaste.

Credits Warrior 2 poses: Vanessa Cohen, modified strap poses: Gerry Lishin

 

This article has been read 10K+ times. Bada bing!

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Melissa Nordin

Melissa is a yoga teacher and Clinical Exercise Physiologist who blends the wisdom of yoga practice with the science of corrective exercise and nutrition. Melissa believes mindfulness is the key to happiness and brings that philosophy into her yoga classes, workshops, and writing.

melissanordin.com

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