Pose of the Week: Virabhadrasana One

This week’s pose is Virabhadrasana 1. Virabhadra = Warrior and Asana = Pose/Posture. 

It’s a standing pose named after the warrior named Virabhadra. It is known as Warrior 1.

 Virabhadra was a powerful hero created by Siva from his matted hair. Further details of the story are in the Virabhadrasana 2 blog.


Image: BKS Iyengar in Virabhadrasana 1 in Light on Yoga (1966)

 It is a challenging standing asana and Mr Iyengar says: “Even people who are fairly strong should not stay long in this asana.” (Light on Yoga, p.47) One of the reasons for this is the difficulty to achieve an upward lifted spine, away from the pelvis. The pelvis wants to tilt forward and pull the spine down with it. From an anatomical perspective the psoas anteverts the pelvis and draws the lumbar spine forward. To create stability the gluteus maximus (the large butt muscle) on the back leg needs to become engaged to stabilise the pelvis. The quadriceps engages to stabilise the legs. So, it’s all in the legs. Get stable.


Image: Students in the Thursday night Level 2 Class 

A lot of us come to yoga to become flexible. How does this actually happen? We learn to stretch the muscles, ligaments, tendons etc. The most effective way to develop this flexibility is to lengthen and extend away from a stable point, like the legs in Virabhadrasana 1.


Image: Illustration of the action of the psoas (Raymond A Long MD)

There is a law of joint movement called the concave-convex joint movement. This occurs when the femur (thigh bone), with its convex surface, is held stationary and the pelvis, with its concave surface, (where it joins the femur) is moved. This is more effective than holding the pelvis stationary and moving the femur, as in lying on your back, taking one leg up and holding the big toe (Supta Padangusthasana).

Book into your next class now and learn more about stability and flexibility:

See you on the mat 🙂

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