Yoga

My Basic Warrior/Standing Sequence

A good warrior flow is a big part of most yoga practices. This is mine!

Last week, I shared Sun Salutation A and my slight variation at the beginning to warm up. I do that three times before moving on to the rest of the my practice. Sometimes I’ll follow up with Sun Salutation B, but I usually move into a Warrior Flow next. Here’s the current iteration of my typical Warrior Flow. Each pose is to be held for 3-5 long breaths.

There are two places to come into the Warrior Flow from. There’s beginning in Mountain Pose, where the idea is to simply step back into a lunge with the heel up or where the heel is down at a 45 degree angle. The other way to come into any of the warriors is from Downward Dog. This involves lifting one leg and then bringing the knee forward toward the chin before putting the foot down as close to the hands as is comfortable and then standing into it with the arms up and the back straight. Either way, the important thing is getting there.

Warrior 1

The basics on Warrior 1 is that the front knee should be stacked on the ankle, which can be checked by the ability to still see just the big two when you glance down at that foot. In this case, it’s my left knee and left foot and left big tow. The right foot is at a 45 degree angle, which means that my hips are not squared in front. If I wanted to square my hips in this pose without killing my right knee, I’d raise the right heel and point the knee forward as well. Don’t get caught up on the hips squared and the heel down. Not hurting yourself is far more important.

From here, there’s Warrior 2:

Warrior 2

On an exhale, bring your arms down and let your hips rotate to the side and the back foot is shifted or the heel lowered so that the foot is parallel to the short end of the mat. In this case, my hips are fully facing the mirrors to my right. If the right foot were forward, they would be facing left. Shoulders are stacked on the hips. There’s a tendency to lean forward when we bring our arms down and look straight over the left hand there, so a quick check in the mirror or a shadow helps sometimes.

On an inhale, rotate the left (forward) hand up and watch it as you bring it up and reach back. Following the hand with your eyes may not seem important but it helps to keep balance and not fall. The right hand can drop, rest on the right leg, or wrap around and touch the hip like in the picture:

Exalted Warrior

On an exhale, straighten the front leg and cartwheel the arms so that the raised arm is down and the lowered are is then raised.

Angle

Another way to get into this one is to exhale back into Warrior 2 and then reach forward with the forward hand as far as possible before bending and shifting the hips back. Either way, the important thing is that the shoulders are stacked and that the reach of the bottom hand doesn’t extend passed the point where the side (the right in this case) is at less than a 45 degree angle from the front leg. If you want to make it a little harder, reach the bottom hand and hold your big toe with your first two fingers but keep that 45 degree angle. If you can’t reach the floor, then rest the hand on your leg or a block.

Then there are two options. One is to just come up and shift into pyramid feet or I mostly shift into Revolved Angle. To do Revolved Angle, pick up the lower hand and rotate it up, to the left in this case, to the right if the right foot is forward. Don’t get too worked up about where the lower arm rests. Just let the hips go where is comfortable.

Revolved Angle

From here, rotate back around and then cartwheel the arms back up on an inhale back into Warrior 2. Shift your feet so that they are close together and parallel on kind of a track parallel to each other, and put your hands on your hips. Exhale and bend, hinging forward at the hips.

Pyramid

This is where it can get a little complicated on knees, so don’t do anything that hurts. From, here bend the front knee and lift the back leg in the air. I’ve seen some yogis who can get the back leg perfectly straight up but I have never been able to. It’s still a great stretch on the standing leg.

As you get the back leg situated, feel free to bend forward with your torso and lower your head, bending the arms. Keep the weight in the leg and just use the arms for balance. When ready to move, shift the hand that is the same side as the standing leg, left in this case, closer to the front of the leg. Lift the other hand (right) and find a focal point to help balance. Rotate the hips towards the side of the raised leg, and bring the torso up. Don’t rest the weigh on the hand try to just use it to steady. This is Half Moon.

Half Moon

Once I got comfortable in this pose, I tried reaching my foot and hand together like this:

Bound Half Moon

It took a while and sometimes a strap to get there but it deepens the stretch on the standing leg. This is the one that I usually have to remember to reach higher for balance. It works great.

From Bound Half Moon, I simply get back into Half Moon and then lower the raised foot to the standing one and the raised hand to the balancing hand, which puts me in Forward Fold. Circle sweep the arms up and into Mountain Pose. Step the opposite leg back into a lunge and the sequence begins again on the other side.

I love this Warrior Flow and do it every single time I do yoga. If I only have 20 minutes, I work through Sun Salutation A three times and then do this flow. In a rush or on a day when I feel like doing yoga that’s a little more power than mind-body, I’ll inhale into one pose and exhale into the next. If you decide to try it out that way, there are only a few extra breaths. Here’s how it works in a power style practice:

  • Inhale and step back into Warrior 1
  • Exhale and bring the arms down into Warrior 2
  • Inhale and bring the front hand up and over for Exalted Warrior
  • Exhale and straighten the front leg, cartwheeling the front hand down into Angle
  • Inhale and lengthen in Angle
  • Exhale and lower the raised hand, raise the lowered hand into Revolved Angle
  • Inhale and lengthen in Revolved Angle
  • Exhale and switch back
  • Inhale and come back up into Warrior 2
  • Exhale and bring the arms down, bring the back foot forward a some.
  • Inhale and adjust shoulder and hips, hands on hips, prepping for Pyramid.
  • Exhale and bend at the waste, keeping the back straight initially and moving through Pyramid before rounding to put hands on the floor while bending the front leg.
  • Inhale the back leg up.
  • Exhale the head down and relaxing a little. Adjust the hand on the side of the standing leg.
  • Inhale and lift the hand on the side of the raised leg up into Half Moon.
  • Exhale the hand and foot down next to the standing ones in Forward Fold.
  • Inhale Half Way Up.
  • Exhale into Forward Fold.
  • Inhale and circle sweep up to Mountain Pose. Switch sides.

Feel free to leave your Warrior Flow in the comments or whether you tried this one!

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