Looking for a 5 min sequence when time is short or something to add some fun to your classes – look no further, the warrior mini-sequence will be perfect! I love the strength I find through the first 2 poses than the fun of the last one as I let my imagination run wild! I give you the Warrior 1-2 3…
1. WARRIOR 1
Start in classic Warrior 1 (virabhadrasāna) and begin building strength from the ground up. Let’s start traditionally with the right-sided version, so standing in a long stride where the right foot points forward and the left is angled at about 45 degrees. Aim for the right knee to be bent so that the thigh is parallel with the floor – it is no problem if it is higher than this but not ideal to be lower. Engage the right outer hip muscles (gluteus medius) to prevent the front knee collapsing inwards and aim for the knee to be stacked directly above the ankle. Then focus on grounding through the right big toe and inner part of the ball of that foot.
Keeping all of this lovely muscle action in the right leg, bring your attention to the left (back) leg. Push back through a straight knee to ground really firmly through the little toe side of the left foot but be sure to keep the big toe side in contact with the mat. This is where you may feel the left side of the pelvis rotate a little forward which is perfect as you are aiming for the body and pelvis to point that way.
Next, gently draw the pelvis and lower ribs together to prevent overarching of the low back. Your intention here is to stretch the tailbone towards the mat between your feet as you grow tall through the crown of the head. And finally, with a breath in, float both arms overhead and stretch your fingers to the ceiling as you squeeze the shoulder blades together and towards the waist a little. Turning your thumbs to face behind you will create some space around your ears if they are feeling a little squashed.
You can look ahead or up towards the fingers but keep the neck long at the back rather than crushing into a hinge.
2. WARRIOR 2
From warrior 1, spin the left (back) heel outwards to bring the foot parallel with the back edge of the mat. At the same time turn the body to face the left side of the mat and lower the arms to shoulder height ending up with the left arm at the back over the left leg and the right arm forward.
Once again, ground through the little toe side of the back foot and the big toe side of the front one. Drive firmly through a straight left leg and aim to keep the right knee bent and stacked over the right ankle – keeping that right gluteus medius engaged here is the secret!
In this warrior, the pelvis and body face to the side of the mat and the hips are opening wide. Aim for the same drawing together of the pelvis and lower ribs with the abs and yummy length through the spine as in warrior 1.
Imagine you are stretching your fingertips away from the shoulders as you gently squeeze the shoulder blades together and down once more. Press the flat hands to palm down into an imaginary table – this makes sure the arms are working as hard as the legs for that whole-body action. Finally, take your best warrior face and gaze serenely over the middle finger of your right hand.
3. NOW THE FUN BIT – WARRIOR 3
This transition and pose challenges strength, flexibility, and balance – I love it!
First – spin the left (back) heel up so that you are on the toes and turn the body back to the right, towards the front of the mat. Swing the left arm forward to meet the right one and clasp hands. This is where I love to imagine I am James Bond and I make a ‘pistol’ with my index fingers pointing forwards and the other fingers linked. Still channeling 007’s strength and drive, hop the back foot in and stretch the ‘pistol’ forwards until you have enough balance to lift the left leg up into Warrior 3.
In this pose, aim for the standing (right) leg to have a micro bend but still grow tall by grounding through the whole foot. Engage the back of the body and left leg as you push the left heel back with the toes pulled up towards the knee (dorsiflexed ankle). The pelvis aims to be parallel with the floor but often rotates upwards so that the left toes end up pointing to the wall rather than the floor – once again strong gluteus medius on the right (standing) leg and superb core control helps prevent this. As the lifted heel drives backward and the toes point to the floor, work to stretch that ‘pistol’ of hands forwards with both arms straight. I find ‘taking aim’ and settling my drishti (gaze) at something just in front of me really helps here!
And then back to the start to do it all again on the other side…
FOR ADDED VALUE
I love to spend at least 5 breaths in each pose and work through the teaching points from the ground up a second time because I SO often find that for each layer of technicality I add, something lower down melts away and needs a reminder to stay engaged.
And notice differences, or even similarities, between the left and right sides as you work through the sequence. I know I have one strong warrior side and the other is less confident.
So, whether you are a closet super-spy like me or more of a serious warrior – this is a fun, energising sequence as a stand-alone practice or popped into a class. It may bring a few giggles as 007 turns out to be more of a wobbly warrior for some people. I hope you come to use and enjoy it as much as I do – have fun!