When it comes to multitasking, few yoga poses have as much to offer as Warrior 3 Pose (known in Sanskrit as virabhadrasana 3).
This standing balance pose is challenging for beginners and advanced yogis alike, and it strengthens the body from head to toe.
Warrior 3 will reveal imbalances in your body (when one side feels weaker than the other), and it can help even them out too.
“Balance is a skill that is often low on the list of fitness priorities,” says Stephanie Saunders, Vice President of Fitness Programs at Beachbody. “However, unlike other areas of fitness which can be limited by genetics, age and mobility, balance can be improved. You may never get an Olympic gold medal at the 400 yard sprint, but you can master Warrior 3.”
If you’re willing to put in the work, Warrior 3 pose will give you everything it demands of you.
Here’s how to start with virabhadrasana 3, one of the many warrior yoga poses named after the fierce Hindu warrior Virabhadra.
How to perform Warrior Pose 3 (Virabhadrasana 3)
Warrior 1 and Warrior 2 poses can be used as entry points into Warrior 3, as can Mountain Pose, High Lunge, or Half Moon Pose, among others.
Here’s how to do virabhadrasana 3 start in mountain pose.
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart, hands by your side or clasped in front of your heart. Engage your abs.
- Shift your weight to your right foot and lift your left knee as you flex your left foot.
- Shift your weight forward as you extend your left leg behind you, keeping your left foot flexed. Upper body and back leg should be parallel to the mat.
- Keep your gaze down, keeping your head neutral.
- Adjust your hips so your pelvis is parallel to the floor. Your right leg should be as straight as possible.
- Find your balance and, if desired, bring your arms straight out in front of you, keeping your shoulders away from your ears.
- Hold the pose for five breaths, up to 30 seconds or more. On an inhale, reverse the movement back to mountain pose and repeat on the other side.
How to make Warrior 3 easier to pose
Want the secret to making your warrior pose easier? Just keep doing it! Balancing poses are meant to be difficult, but I remind my students that any shaking and shaking they feel is an ongoing force. Here are some other tips to make Warrior 3 pose easier.
- Use the wall. If you have trouble balancing, lean your hands against a wall. You can also press your back foot against a wall, which not only promotes balance, but also helps you learn to use your glutes.
- Keep your back leg bent. If you are new to yoga or have tight muscles, the Warrior 3 can be modified. Instead of straightening your back leg and bringing your chest parallel to your mat, stay straighter until you feel strong and balanced.
- Change the position of the hands. “Try to keep your hands in a prayer position at chest level or swing your arms back through your hips for balance,” Saunders says. “You can also lay your fingers on the ground or on blocks for a more sustained experience.”
How to make Warrior 3 Pose harder
The secret to making Warrior 3 pose harder is simple: keep doing it! Hold Warrior 3 pose longer, perform more reps, or try one of these tips.
- Elevate your pose. “For more challenge, try standing on a yoga block while performing Warrior 3,” suggests Saunders.
- Close your eyes. Balancing becomes even more difficult when you remove your focal point.
- Kick your back leg up and down about an inch to further work your glutes and lower body.
- Incoming and outgoing flows of Warrior 3 poses instead of holding it. Come up on an inhale and exhale into the pose.
Beginner’s Tips for Doing Warrior 3 Pose
Virabhadrasana 3, like all yoga warrior poses, takes time and practice.
“This is an asymmetrical, one-legged balancing pose that requires stabilization and proprioception,” Saunders explains. “In other words, there’s a lot going on here. Take it slow, and really focus on your hips staying perpendicular to the floor, and know that this one never really gets easy.
Be patient and keep these tips in mind.
- keep breathing. Although balance may seem easier if you hold your breath, it is not yoga. Keep your mind and body steady throughout the pose by breathing deeply.
- Resist the urge to raise or lower your hip. Keep both hips level and pointing down.
- Stay bent. Flexing your back foot keeps that leg active and working, so your lower back isn’t strained. This is what helps strengthen your glutes and hamstrings.
- If you stretch out your arms, make sure to keep your deltoids engaged by pressing your shoulder blades into your back. This keeps the weight of your arms from straining your shoulders while building the strength of those muscles.
- Don’t forget your standing leg. Try to keep it straight, but avoid locking your knee. If your hamstrings are tight, you can bend your knee to avoid pulling on your glutes.
- Each time you inhale into Warrior 3 pose, find the length and extension. Extend your arms forward and push your back heel backwards. As you exhale, press into your standing leg.
Benefits of Warrior 3 Pose
Above all else, Warrior 3 is a balancing act. Here are some of its other benefits.
1. Increases Balance
Standing on one leg will definitely help with stability, which is so important to staying healthy and strong as you age.
2. Strengthens the glutes and hamstrings
Lifted leg gets quite a glute and hamstring workout in virabhadrasana 3.
3. Strengthen your back and shoulders
While the back leg and arms do a lot of the work, the spine and shoulder muscles are also trained in Warrior 3 pose.
4. Strengthen your core
Keeping your deep abs engaged throughout virabhadrasana 3 secures your lower back and strengthens your core overall.
5. Strengthen the legs
Your standing leg supports the weight of your entire body, which strengthens the muscles that support your ankles, knees, and hips.
6. Aids Focus and Concentration
Breathing while balancing on one foot is not easy! Warrior 3 Pose helps you find calm and sharpen your focus.