- Mariah Rose Crump , Certified Hatha Yoga Instructor
Begin in Mountain Pose, gently closing the eyes and drawing your attention inward to your heart center. Slowly become aware of the rhythm of your heartbeat; feel it warm you and nourish you. Open the eyes and bring the hands to the hips, initiating your movement on the exhale; step the left foot back about three feet, turn your left foot in slightly so that the toes are pointed inward toward the front foot. Visually draw a line from the front heel to the arch of the back foot. Press the outer edge of the back foot into the mat engaging the back leg. Again, initiate the movement with the breath, bending the front knee so that the knee and ankle are in line with one another. Bring the arms into “t” position over the legs, palms to the floor, gazing over the front finger tips. To find alignment in this pose be sure that your shoulders and hips are in line, careful not to lean too far forward or too far back. This pose builds arm strength; as you hold Warrior Two check in with yourself by gazing at the back arm to ensure it is on level with the front arm. As you sustain this pose drop the shoulders down away from the ears, soften the face and heart. Remain in Warrior Two for 30 seconds to one minute, to come out of the pose, bring the hands back to the hips and inhale the back foot forward to find Mountain Pose. Pause in Mountain between sides so that you can gather your breath and prepare for the second side. Move into the pose on the opposite side, as you did with the first side, holding for the same amount of time. Each side of the body reacts differently to poses, so take some time to notice the difference on each side. Remaining present in your yoga poses is part of what differentiates Yoga from other types of exercises. Remember practice makes possible!
Benefits and Cautions: Warrior Two stretches the groin, the chest and the shoulders; this pose also opens up the lungs and the heart. You will find that Warrior Two strengthens the legs, arms and ankles when practiced on a regular basis. If you experience neck pain in practicing this pose do not gaze over the front fingertips; keep the gaze straight ahead lengthen the crown of the head toward the ceiling.
Beginners tip: If you find that it is difficult to support yourself in Warrior Two you can break the pose up into parts. For example, step back into your pose with the hands to the hips, bend the front knee and sustain the pose without lifting the arms. As you feel stronger lift the arms into “t” position coming into a full Warrior Two pose. If the legs are the issue for you, ease off on the width of your stance allowing the knee to be behind the ankle rather than in line with it.
Deepen the Pose: To deepen this pose focus on the rotation of your arms; turn the palms and inner elbow creases to face the ceiling, shoulder blades drop down the back, finally turn the palms from the wrists to face the floor. As you sustain the rotation of the arms, bend the front knee so that the front leg is in a 90 degree angle – careful not to bring the knee beyond the ankle. Pause and Breathe!