After warming up and before getting into neutrally rotated standing poses like Warrior I, where the hips are square, it is a good idea to prepare the body with slightly more approachable externally rotated standing poses like Virabhadrasana II aka Warrior II.
Here, we gently open the hips and stretch our ankles, legs, groins, chest and shoulders while we find strength and stamina paired with an even breath. This pose does also a great job in educating us how to keep the pelvis neutral in the transverse plane, so that we don`t dump into our lower back, which becomes crucial for neutrally rotated standing poses like Warrior I.
How to get into the pose:
- Step your feet about 4 feet apart. From deep within the hip socket, rotate the front leg out to align the front foot parallel to the long end of your mat. Pivit the back heel out, heel to arch aligned.
- Let your hips open naturally. While both frontal hip points aim towards the long end of your mat, most hips won`t allow for a shape where the hips align parrallel, but rather the back hip will come slightly forward.
- Lengthen both sides of the waist evenly, reaching the crown of the head towards the sky.
- Draw the back shoulder back as you bring the front shoulder forward to parallel the torso to the long end of your mat.
- Extend your arms in line with your legs and reach out through the fingertips.
- Let your gaze follow over the front fingertips, keeping the chin parallel to the floor.
- On an exhalation, bend your front knee in line with your second toe, aiming the thigh towards parallel to the floor but not exceeding the 90 degree angle where your knee is stacked over your ankle.
Key actions while you are in the pose:
- Root down through all four corners of your feet and lift up through the inner and outer arches.
- Bend the front leg to a right angle as you lift the inner thigh and knee of the back leg up and away from the floor.
- Move the front shin toward the calf to shift the weight into the heel.
- Allow the pelvis to rotate slightly towards the front knee and align the front knee with the second toe.
- Firm the front buttock in and under as you press the femur of the back leg straight back.
- Imagine you could pull the feet towards each other to activate your inner thighs.
- Lift the frontal hip bones up and lengthen the buttocks down.
- Pin the back hip and and lift the front hip and waist up and off the thigh.
- Lift through the top of the sternum as you release the bottom front ribs toward the hip bones.
- Press the shoulderblades into the chest and spread the collarbones.
- Reach from the breastbone to the fingertips.
- Soften the area where your neck and shoulders meet and extend the sides of the neck evenly.