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Approaching the Pose

No matter what your goal, putting it in the best mental context possible is key! Remember that yoga is about finding peace and joy. Sometimes peace and joy come from improving balance and strength, but never when we are focused on disappointment. We encourage you to observe your practice as it is right now, appreciate your honest effort, and be open to all possibilities that come with your journey.

That said, Warrior III is an exciting, strong posture. Many who can attain it find that, like so many balance postures, their proficiency varies from one day to the next. Do not be discouraged if one day you are strong and stable in the pose, and the next you wobble and struggle to maintain it. Observe your body, your mental state, and use these notations to inform your self-care plan for the rest of the day. Balance postures are a fantastic personal barometer.

Getting into Warrior III

Don't worry! You do not have to create the perfect table-shape with your body to perform Warrior III. It is primarily about learning how to balance on one leg while keeping the rest of the body completely aligned. If your Warrior III looks more like a tilted see-saw than a balanced "T" shape, that is fine! Focus on keeping the line of the body straight and long, and over time, work towards gaining the perpendicular shape of the pose.

Mountain Pose (Tadasana)

We’re going to address this posture by also addressing a foundational posture: Tadasana or Mountain Pose. Like breathing, this may seem simple, but can be quite deceiving! It is very helpful to fine-tune your alignment here before approaching any other posture. Begin by tucking the pelvis slightly under to engage core muscles. Move your attention to your hips, feel the line of them extend through your legs, and make sure your legs and feet are spaced evenly beneath them. Both legs should take the weight of your body as evenly as possible. Now, focus on the feet and the distribution of weight there. Be mindful of the rotation of the foot; keep the toes pointing forward and your weight evenly placed from toes to heels.A great way to assist in finding this middle point is to inhale and rock as far forward on the toes as possible (without falling), then exhale and rock back to the heels as far as you can. Come back to center on the next inhale and find the center of the two extremes. Return focus to the center of the body, then shift thought to the shoulders. They should feel relaxed and low with your arms creating an easy line that descends from the shoulders. Lift through the chest and the back of the head, chin is tucked in slightly. In this posture, your breathing should be very comfortable. Focus on full, easy, even breath in this moment.

Warrior III (Virabhadrasana III)

From this place of total balance and strength, we advance towards Warrior III by raising our arms up overhead. Maintaining your focus on alignment is incredibly important! Though your arms are shifting, the rest of the body maintains the positioning you've so mindfully created. With arms extending overhead, the shoulders should remain in a low position. The reach is felt in the chest, arms, hands and fingers. The hands are rotated so the palms of the hands are facing each other, and they should be in alignment with the shoulders.

Now it's time to extend into Warrior III. Engage both Moolha and Udiana Bandhas, and then begin to move into the posture by reaching back and up with one leg, while the upper body is reaching out and lowering down. Remember that maintaining that straight line in the body is critical to the posture. If you feel that line breaking, hold where you are and go no further. Breathe and strengthen the body at that position before going any deeper into the pose. Regardless of how far into the pose you are able to get, check to make sure your shoulders and hips are still square, chin remains slightly tucked, still lengthening from the back of the head and the chest, reaching through the fingers and toes. The grounded leg stays straight and strong, weight evenly distributed across the foot. Think of making that leg as long and tall as possible.

The Warrior III Cheat Sheet

Once you get into the pose, it is easy to forget all about alignment. When we are working on a pose, we like to use the cycling trick. Cycle through each body part while you are in the pose and check to make sure it is in proper alignment. You can refer to this cheat sheet, beginning with the feet and working upwards.

 

Standing leg

The foot pushes evenly and firmly into the mat, calf and thigh are  engaged and lengthening. Your thigh should be strong to avoid putting pressure on the knee joint.

Raised leg

The foot, calf and thigh are all engaged. Toes can be flexed or pointed, but be sure to feel the line of energy continue through the leg and out through the extended portion of the foot.

Hips

Square and even. Make sure one hip is not lifting up higher than the other.

Core

Engaged and lengthening. Use all of your core muscles to power your balance.

Back

Engaged. Squeeze your back muscles to open your front body.

Shoulders

Relaxed and moving away from the ears.

Neck

Long. There should be a feeling of lengthening from the back of the neck.

Arms

Engaged and lengthening. Extending from the line created by the back and shoulders, and running parallel to the ears.

Fingers

Energized and lengthening. They continue the line of the arms.

Head

Head is centered, chin slightly tucked, energy extending from the back of the head.

Eyes

Gaze can be softly focused down and slightly ahead.

 

 

As you master the alignment, the strength and balance will come. Let us know how you are doing with Warrior III. We love hearing from you and look forward to sharing about your personal yoga journey. No matter if you are a beginner or advanced yogi, we are honored to support your practice.

Namaste.

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