The Benefits Of Doing Warrior 2 Pose In Yoga

Scrolling through TikTok and Instagram, you'll probably see some pretty crazy yoga poses that often take years to master. Yet a yoga practice must begin with basics that build both strength and flexibility while also improving focus and concentration. Warrior 2 pose is a great foundation to build your yoga practice, and you'll practice warrior 2 in most hatha or vinyasa yoga classes.

Warrior 2, also called Virabhadrasana II, is named after the Hindu warrior Virabhadra. We use the strength of the warrior to cultivate mental strength. While reaching one arm forward toward the future and another arm behind toward the past, we ground ourselves in the center and strengthen ourselves in the present moment (via In Balance Health).

Because warrior 2 is a standing pose, you'll definitely feel the pose working your hamstrings, quads, and inner thighs (via ISSA). Warrior 2 also allows a nice stretch in your shoulders, hips, and chest. You'll also be working on your balance in warrior 2 because of the wide stance of your legs. The small muscles around your feet and ankles will also get a little bit of a workout to help keep you stable.

How to do warrior 2 pose

To practice warrior 2 pose, begin at the back of your mat. Step your right foot into a lunge and establish a stable distance between your feet. It sometimes helps to heel-toe your right foot toward the right edge of your mat to help with stability. Externally rotate your left hip (i.e. open it away from your torso) so that your left heel plants firmly onto the mat. Your left foot should be parallel to the back edge of your mat.

Now extend your arms out to your sides so they're parallel to the floor. Once you find stability here, bend your right knee up to 90 degrees with your knee just above your ankle. Press down with the big toe of your right foot to keep the thigh stable and engaged. Press through the outer blade of the left foot to ground the left leg down. Gaze over the middle finger of your right hand and hold for five breaths. You can move in and out of warrior 2 by straightening the right leg while reaching the arms overhead and then returning to the pose (via Ekhart Yoga). You can then repeat the same actions on the other side, right your left foot lunged forward.

You'll want to listen to your body while in warrior 2, especially if you have knee, hip, back, or ankle issues. The pose should feel powerful, not painful. People who might have balance issues can practice warrior 2 against a wall, where you can place a block between the right thigh and the wall (via YogaJala).

Warrior 2 variations

Warrior 2 comes with many variations for your arms while you strengthen your legs. Try practicing warrior 2 with cactus arms (or goal post arms) by bending your elbows so your hands are on the same line as your ears. Your shoulder blades together by imagining trying to pinch a raisin between them. That will help open up your chest and front of your shoulders while strengthening your back. A strap or a resistance band can also strengthen and stretch the shoulders.

Channel your inner Katniss Everdeen or Clint Barton in warrior 2 by keeping your front arm straight while pulling the back arm like you're drawing back the string of a bow. A strap or resistance band also helps to get into the shoulders a little more deeply. A great way to open the chest and shoulders is by practicing warrior 2 with cow-faced arms. Reach one arm up and touch the back of your neck with that hand. The opposite arm reaches under and behind you so the back of that hand reaches your spine. If possible, see if you can clasp your hands. Use a towel or strap to help with this shoulder stretch (via YouAligned).