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Take Flight with Warrior III


Warrior III (aka Virabhadrasana III or Flying Dragon) is a standing balance pose that can help you to create stability while maintaining a sense of ease, strengthen the legs and abdominal muscles, and improve focus. Virabhadra is the name of a mythical, sometimes referred to as Flying Dragon pose.


There are various ways to get into the pose, but for this lesson we’ll work from High Lunge pose. Although I've included images, don’t get too fixated on the visual. Focus more on how the pose feels in your body and feeling strong, stable, and focused.


The Setup

  1. Begin in Mountain Pose. Stand with your feet about hip width apart, arms down by your sides, Lift and spread your toes and the balls of your feet, then lay them back on the floor. Root down into the mounds of the big toes, little toes, and the center of the heels.

  2. Inhale, lift arms overhead.

  3. Exhale, come into a forward bend with knees bent.

  4. Inhale, step your one foot back behind you, with the ball of the foot on the floor (High Lunge). Step back far enough so that your front knee is at a right angle. Draw in the lower belly, bringing navel to spine.

  5. Exhale, hinge forward from the hips.

  6. Inhale, root down firmly through your front foot and shift your weight forward to lift the back foot off the floor.

  7. Exhale, begin straightening the standing leg, using the muscles of your front leg to lift the thigh, without locking the knee. Bending the knee slightly can help you to balance.

The Pose

To help stabilize and refine the pose:

  • Keep your lifted foot flexed, toes pointing down to the floor. Alternatively, you can press out through the ball of the foot. Imagine pressing the sole of the foot against an imaginary wall to keep the raised leg active.

  • Engage your glute muscles to keep your hips level and stable and protect your lower back.

  • Look down, about a foot in front of your front foot, so the back of your neck is a long. Keep your shoulder blades back and down, not up by your ears.

  • Don’t forget to breath! You can hold the pose from 5 to 10 breaths.

  • What do you do with your arms? You can hold onto blocks, a chair, or wall for support (see Props section below). You can place your hands at heart center (palms together). You can reach your arms out to the side or reach forward. Or you could clasp your hands behind your back.

Props

Props can be quite helpful to support and stabilize you in Warrior III.

  • Blocks: Place two blocks in front of you about as far apart as the width of your shoulders. After coming into high lunge, place your hands on the blocks.

  • Place a chair in front of you. With the seat facing towards you, place your hands on seat of the chair or turn the seat of the chair around and place your hands on the back of the chair.

  • Wall: Facing a wall, place your hands on the wall in front of you. Facing away from the wall, place your foot on the wall behind you.


The Finish

  1. Return to high lunge by bending the front knee and lowering the back leg, placing the ball of the foot on the floor.

  2. Step your back foot forward to return to standing forward bend.

  3. With a slight bend to the knees, rise to standing pose.

  4. Do all the above on the other leg.

Wow! That’s a lot to think about for one pose, but that’s one of the things I love about yoga. I've been practicing for many years, but I always find there’s more to explore in every pose. It never gets boring.


In Warrior III, I always feel a little like I have the superpower of Flight. It takes me back to my childhood when my big brother would give me “airplane rides.” As you practice this fun and challenging pose, I hope you'll find the stability and ease to make your Warrior III soar.

"Airplane Ride"