Step-by-Step Yoga Pose: Warrior II

Looking for a summer challenge? Tame your mind, tone your largest muscle groups and find your grounding with Warrior II.

Warrior II
Alias: Virabhadrasana II (“virabhadra” = a warrior in Hindu mythology, “asana” = pose)

Why Warrior II Pose?
You’ll get a delicious, deep stretch through the hip flexors and across your chest. Staying in the pose strengthens your quads, ankles, core, shoulders and arms. Practicing the pose over time will increase your endurance and stability, too.


Getting into the posture:

  • Begin standing with your feet together.
  • Step your right foot out about 4 feet to the side (longer if you are especially tall).
  • Angle your left foot in 45 degrees. Turn your right toes to face the front of your mat.
  • Raise both arms to shoulder height and stretch them straight out to your sides.
  • Palms can face up or down.
  • Bend your right knee to 90 degrees. Keep your knee stacked over your ankle.
  • Turn your head to the right and look out over your right middle finger.
  • Find one focus point. Breathe.
  • Hold the pose for 15-45 seconds.
  • Exit the pose slowly by straightening your right leg, stepping your feet together and dropping your arms to your sides.
  • Repeat on the other side, beginning with your left foot.

Tips for success:

  • Keep your heels in line with one another.
  • The knee should stay stacked over the ankle to prevent injury.
  • Make sure your shoulders stay stacked over your hips the entire time.
  • Engage your legs and belly.
  • Relax your shoulders down away from your ears.

Variations/Modifications:

  • Use a prop: Need extra support to stay balanced? Place a chair where you can hold onto it with one or both of your hands (i.e., in front of you).
  • Use a strap for a tricep stretch: Starting in Warrior II with the right leg bent, grab a strap with your right hand. Lift your right elbow to the sky and move your arm to the side of your head so the strap dangles down your back. Bend your left elbow behind your back and grab the loose end of the strap with your left hand. Hold for 15-30 seconds. Repeat starting with the left hand when you do the pose on your left side.

  • Extended Side Angle Pose (Utthita Parsvakonasana): Once you feel solid in your Warrior II base, move into extended side angle pose. From Warrior II with the right leg bent, shift your torso and right arm as far to the right side as you can. Lightly drop and rest your right elbow on your right knee and extend your left arm toward the sky. Focus on rotating your chest open toward the sky and pulling your abdomen in. Need even more of a challenge? Try clasping your hands behind your back!

Contraindications (when to be cautious):

  • Previous knee injury: Only come into the lunge as far as is comfortable. Do not let your knee move further forward than your ankle.
  • Previous shoulder injury: Rest your arms at your sides while practicing the pose to alleviate shoulder tension.

Natalie Sober is a yoga enthusiast who is inspired to share her knowledge. Natalie completed her first RYT-200 hour yoga teacher training course in Telkot, Nepal, in the Sanatan style of yoga before obtaining her second RYT-200 hour certification in the Power Vinyasa style.

Interested in learning more? Check out other poses in our Yoga Blog Series!

*Please consult your physician before beginning this series or any exercise program. As always, your body is the best teacher so listen to the cues it gives regarding whether or not a pose is a good idea.

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