Balancing yoga poses might look intimidating on Instagram, but warrior III (demonstrated here by NYC-based trainer Rachel Mariotti) is an advanced pose while still being totally accessible. Not only does it look impressive, but it impressively works your whole body while elevating your heart rate. "This pose adds the challenge of balancing on one leg and pulling your body into a straight line against gravity to build strength along the back of your body," says Heather Peterson, chief yoga officer at CorePower Yoga. (Take this balance fitness test to see how good your balance really is.)
You'll usually find this move in yoga classes during the standing or balancing series after you're plenty warmed up. If you practice yoga on your own, a great way to get into this pose is by starting from warrior I or crescent lunge and moving to airplane pose, followed by warrior III, says Peterson. Since warrior III provides the basic framework for standing splits and revolved half moon, those are great poses to follow.
Warrior III Benefits and Variations
Standing on one leg will force you to engage your core to help balance and stabilize you, and you'll build endurance when you work up to holding this posture for five breaths. "Particularly, warrior III trains the low back, the back of your core, and the glutes and hamstrings on the lifted leg," explains Peterson. Your standing leg will also get a workout, hitting your hamstrings, inner and outer thighs, and glutes. (Try these leg-strengthening yoga poses too.)
If you have ankle, knee, hip, or lower-back pain, use blocks under your hands or bend your standing leg to modify this pose.
To kick things up a notch, bring your palms to prayer. For another challenging variation, try extending your standing-side arm to the side and extending your lifted leg to the other side.
How to Do Warrior III Pose
A. From warrior I or crescent lunge, move to airplane pose by launching onto the front foot and sweeping arms back, palms facing down. Torso and back leg are in a straight line parallel to the ground.
B. Extend arms forward with biceps next to ears, parallel to ground with palms facing in.
C. Soften standing leg knee slightly to fire up the leg muscles, engage standing leg glute to stabilize, and level hips to the floor.
D. Energize and straighten back leg by engaging back thigh and glute and flexing back foot.
Hold for 3 to 5 breaths then move on with your flow. Repeat pose on opposite side.
Warrior III Form Tips
- Flex back foot and point toes toward floor by engaging inner thigh and drawing it upwards.
- Draw the tailbone down and draw the low ribs toward hips to engage core.
- Broaden shoulder blades and lengthen the back of the neck, gazing down and slightly forward.