Warrior I (demonstrated here by NYC-based trainer Rachel Mariotti) is one of the foundational poses in your Vinyasa yoga flow—but have you ever really stopped to think about it and break it down? Doing so can help you tap into even more muscles. "It's a mainstay in a yoga practice because of its simplicity and rigor," says Heather Peterson, chief yoga officer at CorePower Yoga. "As you develop your full body awareness, it becomes more and more nuanced and never ceases to challenge you." (Same goes for these other beginner yoga poses you're probably doing wrong.)
In a typical yoga class, you might find warrior I after the warm-up of sun salutations A and in sun salutations B or standing series. If you're practicing on your own, Peterson suggests entering the pose from downward facing dog. After a few breaths, you can follow with forward facing hip poses like pyramid, revolved triangle, and revolved dancer. "Warrior I is the building block for those more advanced poses," she says.
Warrior I Variations and Benefits
"Warrior I creates focus in the mind and energizes the mood by embodying the warrior mindset," says Peterson. You'll strengthen all the muscles of the legs, including your hamstrings, inner and outer thighs, and glutes. This is also a great pose for training and toning your core 360 degrees, she says.
If you have ankle, knee, or hip pain, you can modify this pose by taking a wider stance side to side or shortening your stance, says Peterson. People with low back or SI joint pain can also vary the pose to accommodate by taking the hips to 45 degrees rather than square to the front. (Or try these yoga poses specifically for lower back pain.)
Looking for an extra challenge? Align your front heel with your back arch, bring your palms to prayer overhead, gaze up, and add a slight back bend while you maintain control of your core. Even trickier? Close your eyes.
How to Do Warrior I
A. From downward dog, step right foot between hands and spin back foot down at a 45-degree angle, back heel in line with front heel.
B. Lift torso and raise arms overhead with palms turned in.
C. Bend front knee to 90 degrees, pointing straight forward with the center of knee cap in line with second toe.
Hold for 3 to 5 breaths, then move on with your flow. Repeat pose on opposite side.
Warrior I Form Tips
- Seal the outside edge of back foot down onto the floor as you draw the back arch up. Spin your back inner thigh to back wall.
- Draw front hip crease to back wall to engage inner and outer thigh muscles and help square hips forward.
- Draw tailbone down and close your ribs (draw the bottom points of your ribs toward hips) to fire up your core.