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Personal Practice: Warrior 3
Learn to use your muscles to stabilize your joints
BY THE MAGAZINE OF YOGA STAFF
Warrior three is a beautiful balance posture that both lifts spirits and grounds energy. It’s pure physicality is delicious:
- defining movement in forward / backward sagittal plane
- subtlety in the transverse plane we usually call a twist
- developmental diversity in the coronal or side-to-side plane of movement as we use all the muscles of each side of our bodies separately
Building confidence in warrior three
Balance postures are superb for engaging the three kinds of strength yoga develops.
As you become fully aware of how to use all the resources at your disposal, balancing in warrior three refines your sense of well being and confidence in your daily life and activities.
To receive all this posture has to offer:
Keep your hips even rather than twisting to lift the hip of the extended leg
By “staying flat” we’re using the same muscles we’d normally use for twisting to stabilize and maintain the horizontal evenness of the hips.
When we do warrior three we’re engaging a subtle eccentric contraction that builds strength in the core muscles.
Don’t lock the knee of the standing leg, do use muscles to stabilize and maintain a responsive posture
Locking joints is a temptation in balance postures, but don’t go there!
Instead, experiment with resisting and engaging the contraction of the quadricep at the same time using the hamstrings as well as the adductor muscles of the inner thighs on both legs.
Lengthen into the posture from the abdominal muscles through the inner thigh into the arches of your feet.
Reach through your body from your core instead of sleeping on your hip joint and levering your leg and torso.
How to practice warrior three
In warrior three, supple balance is experienced through strength in extension. Instead of defaulting to arching your back, find a through line of awareness in the center of your torso and extended leg.
One way to practice is with the hip of the extended leg against a wall. This provides balance assistance and allows you to keep your hips parallel as you explore the working muscles of your legs.
Feel and sense all of the muscles involved. Experiment with the following:
Hold on to the back of a chair or lean on a stool or counter for stability as you try out the feeling of extension. Lean forward and keep your torso parallel to the floor rather than trying to stay upright.
Anchor the foot of your extended leg against the wall at a height that brings your extended leg parallel to the floor. This provides stability to explore the working muscles of the torso. Reach though your pelvic floor into both legs, extend out into the reach of your heart and arms.
Instead of coming into the posture by leaning forward and lifting your leg at the hip joint, try this.
Bend the knee of the standing leg. Lift the foot and bend the knee of the leg you’re going to extend. Find balance here.
Extend from the center of your body going long in your torso and extending through your leg.
Find full expression by lifting out of your lengthening standing leg.
Want to strengthen your abdominal muscles for more control in daily balance? Try Five Minutes of Focus as a daily abs series in your practice.
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© 2011, The Magazine of Yoga, LLC.