I Should go Do Yoga....Prep for Warrior 3
Warrior 3 is one of the ultimate balancing postures in yoga, and it’s likely you’ll come across it regularly in class! It makes me feel super strong and powerful when I practice this posture, because it works strength and balance in the core and legs (and it kinda makes me look like superwoman ;-)). It’s also great for practising stillness of mind, because as soon as you get distracted, you fall.
To get the most out of this posture, you need to have warmed up those leg muscles and got the core activated, so you can hold that alignment nicely and really feel the benefits of the posture! Here are my top postures for working towards a strong and stable Warrior 3!
Sun Salutations B
Start with a gentle warm-up, anything that feels good. When you’re ready and warmed up, let’s start with some Sun Salutations B. Stand with your knees and big toes together. Squeeze your inner thighs in. Inhale and raise the hands over the head. Exhale and bend the knees like you’re sitting on a chair. Make sure the weight is in your heels, chest is lifted and inner thighs are engaged. Hug your low belly in to feel the transverse abdominal muscles starting to work. Inhale, and then on the exhale and fold-forward (soft knees, keep the spine long and fold from the hips).
Inhale and lift half-way to lengthen the spine, draw your shoulders back slightly. Exhale and step into plank. Inhale at the top and then on the exhale either lower through your chaturanga or lower the knees first, then the chest. Inhale and lift into your cobra or upward-facing dog. Exhale into downward-facing dog.
Inhale and raise the left leg high, then exhale and step it forwards into Warrior 1 (back foot at 45-degree angle, hips working towards facing forwards). Inhale here and then exhale back to plank and repeat with the right leg forwards.
From downward-facing dog, look forwards and step to the top of the mat (knees and big toes together). Inhale and lift into your chair pose. Exhale and come back to standing.
Repeat 3 times.
These will get your body fired up and work the legs and glutes for a stable base in your Warrior 3.
Downward-Facing Dog to Plank
On your last round of Sun Sals B, stay in downward-facing dog and move between downward-facing dog and plank 4-5 times. Hold your plank for 5 breaths each time. Focus on keeping the line nice and straight between your heels and your shoulders. Imagine your tailbone drawing towards your heels and your public bone towards your belly-button to activate your core.
Step forward from downward-facing dog into a low lunge. Instead of sinking into a hip stretch, focus on lifting upwards. Hug the low belly in and activate the core to try and keep your ribs from flaring out. Press down with your front foot and back knee to engage the leg muscles and core as much as you can. Stay for 5-10 breaths and then change.
From downward-facing dog, jump through to boat pose. Hug the knees into the chest and then lift the feet off the mat so the shins are parallel to the floor. If you notice yourself falling backwards, keep your hands on the back of your thighs. If you can, reach your hands forward, hug your low-belly in and keep pressing the chest forwards. Hold for 5-10 breaths then rest, and repeat twice more.
Come to laying on your back. Lift your legs straight into the air at 90-degrees. With your hands down by your sides pressing into the mat, lower your legs to a 45-dgree angle. Then inhale and lift back to 90. Lower on the exhale, lift on the inhale, focusing on pressing the low-back into the mat.
Repeat 10-15 times or as much as you can, before resting.
Laying flat on your back, take your hands up and overhead. Inhale and press your lower back into the mat and notice how your core activates to do this. Lift your hands and feet off the floor a couple of cms and keep your arms and legs straight. Hold here for 5-10 breaths and then rest. Repeat twice more.
This is the position the torso wants to be in throughout your Warrior 3 (and is also the correct alignment for a straight-line handstand!).
Warrior 3 on the floor
Using a strap around the ball of your foot, raise one leg at 90 degrees. This isn’t a hamstring stretch, so instead of that, just focus on the alignment of having your bottom leg flat and in line with your torso. Press the ball of your raised foot into the strap and the heel of your bottom foot away from you. Hold here and focus on the alignment for 5-10 breaths. Repeat on the other side.
Warrior 3 at the wall
Now you’ve felt the alignment, let’s do it standing up. One of the biggest things I see with my students is the lack of engagement through the body in Warrior 3. You want to be reaching forward with your hands and pressing back with your foot all at the same time. Keep your standing leg slightly bent.
Line yourself up against a wall so that you can press into the wall with your arms extended and your torso in line with the floor. Press with everything you have into the wall, and extend your back leg back. Bring your awareness into the core and activate the low belly. Hold for 5 breaths and repeat on the other side.
Warrior 3 with a strap
This is my absolute favourite use of props for alignment. It really helps to activate that back leg, rather than it just trailing behind you, making it difficult to balance. Bring the strap behind you and hold on to each end. Step the HEEL of one foot into the strap, and then tighten so the strap is tight and your arms are completely straight down by your sides. Now, pressing your heel into the strap and keeping a straight line between your heel and your shoulder, start to bend forwards, lifting the leg behind you.
Just lean forwards as much as you can while keeping the straight line. Soften the knee of your standing leg to ride the wobbles. Activate the core and press press press your heel back into the strap as much as you can.
Hold for 5-10 breaths and repeat on the other side.
So, there you have it! Now you’re ready to practice Warrior 3!
Try not to lock out the knee of your standing leg, a little bend will help work the muscles and ride any wobbles (like suspension on a car)
Press back with the heel of your lifted leg (remember pressing into the strap!)
Reach forwards with your hands, or if that doesn’t feel right, just keep your hands in prayer, or back your sides
Activate your low belly and core, keep the ribs tight, rather than flared out
You don’t have to dip your torso lower than your hips, just lean forwards as much as you can while keeping the line between your heel and your shoulder straight
Fix your gaze on one point in front of you and KEEP BREATHING!
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