Now that we’re on the third and final post in the Warrior series, you’re likely aware of just how much is happening in each of these poses — physically, energetically and mentally. Warrior 3 is no exception!
With fierce focus and grace, this intermediate balancing posture builds inner and outer strength. Warrior 3 helps us let go of mental resistance and stay present in the midst of discomfort, which translates to our lives off the mat, too! Let’s take a deeper look into engaging this pose and get your inner warrior flying high…
The Basics of Warrior 3
In the full expression of Warrior 3, the body resembles the letter T: both arms reach forward, the standing leg is strong and engaged, and the lifted leg is extended backward. Before we can even think about getting to this point, however, we have to bring our awareness to our foundation.
To do so, begin in Mountain pose, standing at the top of your mat with your feet hip-width apart. Spread the toes of the right foot, and then ground down through all four corners. Press through the back two corners of the heels, the ball joint of the big toe and the ball joint of the pinkie toe. It’s essential not to blow past this grounding action in the standing foot — no matter where you’re at, creating a strong foundation is the best way to grow your pose with integrity.
Once you’re anchored through the right foot, inhale to reach both arms up overhead. Begin to shift your weight into that right foot as you slowly float your left leg up and back. Exhale as you begin to hinge forward with your upper body, all the while lifting the left foot back. Drop the left hip down to keep it level with the right, and take your sweet time here, staying connected to your breath and your center of gravity. Pull your core in, navel to spine, to support your lower back.
Warrior 3 isn’t just about hoisting that back leg up; we want to work with integrity, so keep your neck long and relaxed, and keep length in your spine as you extend from your fingertips to the back heel. Energize your lifted thigh to help you find balance, continually checking in to make sure your hips are even. One helpful check-in for the hips is to pretend that there’s a cup of water balanced on your lower back, and adjust accordingly to make sure it doesn’t spill.
If you’re weebling and wobbling, don’t sweat it…that’s just your standing leg getting stronger! It’s also helpful to practice against your wall, pressing against it with the hands and/or the feet, as you build that stability. With so much going on in the lower body, you’re welcome to keep your hands pressed together at heart center to focus on your foundation first before taking the arms forward. In fact, there’s plenty of arm variations you can take…and we strongly encourage you to experiment and play! Warrior 3 is no doubt complex, but we don’t have to take it so seriously; remember, practice and all is coming 🙂
- Strengthens the ankles and legs
- Stretches the chest and shoulders
- Improves balance and coordination
- Increases mental focus
- Tones the abdominals
- Enhances full-body coordination
Finding your deepest expression of Warrior 3 takes practice, so congratulate yourself for showing up on your mat and putting the time in to explore the nuances of this posture. And as always, feel free to ask your Haven instructors for their best tips on Warrior 3 — we love to hear what’s on your mind and help you along your yoga journey in any way possible!