What Are the Benefits of Warriors in Yoga?

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In Sanskrit, the Warrior or Hero pose is called Virabhadrasana. The name derives from Virabhadra, a great warrior hero in Indian mythology. According to legend, Virabhadra had a fearsome appearance with a thousand heads, a thousand eyes and a thousand feet; he wielded a thousand clubs and wore the skin of a tiger. The term warrior is used in yoga to reference a pose meant to bring spirituality and enlightenment to one’s practice, according to "Yoga Journal."

The Poses

Warrior is a vigorous yoga posture that demands strength and steadiness. The Warrior pose has three variations. Warrior I and Warrior II are easy enough for beginning yoga practitioners, while Warrior III is an intermediate posture. Warrior I is often used in yoga sessions as a warm-up or as part of the Sun Salutation series. In each Warrior pose, the practitioner is standing, either in a lunge position or on one leg. In all the postures, the arms are extended, held straight with muscles active. Like many yoga poses, the Warrior series challenges your concentration and increases body awareness, while improving your circulation and energizing your entire body.

Warrior I

Warrior I requires you to maintain a lunge position with the front knee bent and the back leg straight. You allow your gaze to follow your arms as you extend them overhead, keeping your chest facing the same direction as your bent knee. Although this pose is easy enough for the beginning yoga student, it offers many benefits. Your balance is challenged while you stretch your chest, lungs, shoulders, neck, abdomen and groin. You are standing still, but all your muscles are alert and active, which helps strengthen the shoulder, arms and back. In particular, this pose builds strength in the ankles, calves and thighs.

Warrior II

The Warrior II pose is also performed in a lunge position. From a five-pointed star position -- with legs spread apart and arms straight out at your sides -- you lunge on one leg, keeping your chest facing the side but turning your head to face the same direction as your bent knee. The Warrior II pose builds stamina while strengthening your shoulders, back, arms and legs. You may find this posture helpful for relieving backache, particularly through the second trimester of pregnancy, according to "Yoga Journal."

Warrior III

Warrior III is the most challenging variation of the Warrior postures. The pose is usually entered into from Warrior I. In a lunge position with arms straight overhead, you slowly lower your arms and trunk until they are parallel to the floor. At the same time, you straighten your bent leg while removing the weight from your hind leg, extending it behind you. Because this posture requires you to stand on one leg, it is effective for building focus and concentration. This pose also improves balance and posture while strengthening the feet, ankles, legs, shoulders, back and abdomen.